North Korea summit: Kim pledges nuclear cuts if Americans follow suit

Frederick Owens
September 20, 2018

The show of unity came after the North Korean leader on Wednesday agreed to close the Tongchang-ri missile-testing site in the presence of global observers, a move the U.S. welcomed by saying it was ready for immediate talks aimed at denuclearising the North by January 2021.

The United States has also invited North Korean representatives to meet with the USA special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, in Vienna at the "earliest opportunity", Mr Pompeo said.

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

"We absolutely can not let this hard to come by opportunity for peace slip away once again", the Chinese government's top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, said in a statement.

The North's offer to close the Yongbyong facility was coupled with a pledge to permanently shut down its missile engine testing facility and launch pad under the watchful eye of global experts.

The two leaders also agreed to an open permanent facility for family reunions, work towards joining up road and rail links and bid jointly for the 2032 Olympics.

Kim Jong Un, too, has visited the mountain around major developments in North Korea, such as before he executed top officials including his uncle Jang Song-thaek in late 2013, and following North Korea's fifth nuclear test in 2016.

The hope is that it will kickstart talks between the United States and North Korea which have stalled. He didn't indicate in his brief remarks whether the US would be willing to take further steps to encourage North Korean action on denuclearization.

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The trip was heavy with symbolism, as Moon is the first South Korean president to visit Mount Paektu and the cerulean lake at its summit from the North Korean side.

In his seven-minute long speech, he said the two countries should "become one", as they were before the war.

Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in flew separately to an airport near Mount Paektu on Thursday morning where they then met up and drove to the mountain.

As the highest peak on the Korean peninsula at about 2750 metres, Mount Paektu is the mythical origin of the Korean people, featured in South Korea's national anthem and various North Korean propaganda.

Moon says relations between the rivals should improve so that more South Koreans can visit the volcano. "Because of that, the regional political situation has been stabilized and more progress on North Korea-U.S. ties is expected".

Kim also pledged establishing closer ties with the South.

"President Moon nearly cried giving the address in Pyeongyang", Herry J. Kanzianism, director of defense studies at center for the national interest, said during a specialist discussion session at Seoul Press Center.

South Korean tourists flock to see the mountain via China but only a handful of Southerners have been granted access from the North Korean side, mostly for research purposes.

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