Two Koreas’ leaders in mountain show of unity

By: AFP September 20,2018 - 10:23 PM

Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in visited the spiritual birthplace of the Korean nation Thursday for a show of unity after their North-South summit gave new momentum to Pyongyang’s negotiations with Washington.

The North Korean leader on Wednesday agreed to shutter the Tongchang-ri missile-testing site in the presence of international observers, a move the US welcomed by saying it was ready for immediate talks aimed at denuclearising the North.

Pyongyang also said it could dismantle its best-known nuclear facility at Yongbyon, if the US takes “corresponding measures”, as Kim and the South Korean president held their third summit this year.

It is an important caveat, but the declaration appeared to break the logjam in nuclear discussions with Washington. President Donald Trump welcomed the move, tweeting that Kim had “agreed to allow Nuclear inspections, subject to final negotiations”, adding: “Very exciting!”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also praised the “important commitments,” saying he invited his North Korean counterpart to meet next week on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, and representatives of both sides to meet “at the earliest opportunity” in Vienna — home of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Washington was ready to “engage immediately in negotiations” to achieve the North’s denuclearisation by January 2021, Pompeo added — the end of Trum’’s first term.

The process had stalled after the historic Singapore summit between Trump and Kim in June, when Kim declared his backing for denuclearisation of the peninsula but no details were agreed.

Washington and Pyongyang have subsequently sparred over what that means and how it will be achieved, with the Trump administration consistently referring to the denuclearisation of North Korea specifically. AFP

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