Published: Thu, September 20, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Korean leaders meet in Pyongyang for potentially tough talks

Korean leaders meet in Pyongyang for potentially tough talks

It is the first time a South Korean president has set foot in that building.

North Korea's Korean Central News Agency published the statement on Tuesday hours before the Korean leaders were expected to meet in Pyongyang for their third summit this year amid a global diplomatic push to resolve the nuclear standoff.

"Upon arriving to the airport in Pyongyang, President Moon and his wife Kim Jung-Sook was greeted by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju on the tarmac as part of an official greeting ceremony".

Amid the pomp and smiles, Moon will be looking to settle some lofty goals, including resolving deadlocked nuclear diplomacy, easing a military standoff and promoting peace on a peninsula many feared was close to war a year ago. Before his departure he said he meant to push for "irreversible, permanent peace" and for better dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington.

"You Mr President are travelling all around the world, but our country is humble compared with developed nations", Kim told Moon.

Kim and Moon will hold official talks Wednesday morning, according to the South Korean President's Office. Traveling on Moon's government jet was Samsung scion Lee Jae-yong and other business leaders, underscoring Moon's hopes to expand cross-border business projects.

The North Korean leader then led his guests to meet some of his senior officials, and they exchanged mutual greetings. Tens of thousands of citizens dressed in colorful national costumes and waving flags and paper-flower bouquets lined up in the streets chanting "Unification!"

It's "difficult to have an optimistic outlook" on the progress of denuclearization, although it will depend on the honest conversations between Moon and Kim to reach such an agreement, Im said.

The first visit by a South Korean president to Pyongyang in a decade is also the two leaders' third meeting this year after previous summits in April and May in the Demilitarized Zone that divides the peninsula.

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Even the venue for one of the leaders' meetings - the ruling Workers' Party headquarters, where Moon signed a guestbook near a map depicting a single, undivided Korea - will play well with a delighted North Korean public. While Washington insists Pyongyang commits to denuclearization first, the Kim regime wants the removal of sanctions and a peace agreement with the South to end the Korean War.

Moon - whose own parents fled the North during the 3-year conflict - is on a 3-day trip, following in the footsteps of his predecessors Kim Dae-jung in 2000 and mentor Roh Moo-hyun in 2007. Those trips produced a slew of inter-Korean rapprochement projects, which were suspended after conservatives took power in Seoul.

Consider one telling scene, not long after Moon's arrival Tuesday, when cameras caught Kim and his sister, Kim Yo Jong, who acts as her brother's chief propagandist, both maneuvering Moon so that he had the ideal view - and could be perfectly seen on a reviewing stand, Kim by his side - as an honor guard of goose-stepping troops armed with bayonet-tipped rifles marched by. Moon is to return home on Thursday.

On Monday, Moon said he wanted to achieve a lasting peace during his talks with Kim.

Washington wants to see concrete action toward denuclearisation by North Korea before agreeing to a key goal of Pyongyang - declaring an end to the Korean War.

It will mark the third time in less than five months that the leaders of the two Koreas sit down face-to-face.

Three big issues were expected to be on the agenda; improving inter-Korean relations, promoting denuclearisation and US-North Korea dialogue, and ending inter-Korean military tensions.

"It's clear that the leader of North Korea is trying to make a point to the United States: We may not be on the same page when it comes to denuclearization, but the Koreans are on the same page and we're going to move forward with our relationship", she said.

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