The leaders of North and South Korea have committed themselves to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and pledged to bring a formal end to the Korean War, 65 years after hostilities ceased.
In a remarkable day-long summit that weighed heavy with symbolism, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong Un embraced, planted a tree and talked alone for more than 30 minutes.
Then, they signed the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification on the Korean Peninsula, which commits the two countries to denuclearization and talks to bring a formal end to the conflict.
In separate speeches, Kim and Moon promised a new era. Addressing the world’s media live on television for the first time, Kim said the Koreas ” would be reunited as one country.”
But behind all the ceremony, there were few concrete details. The Panmunjom Declaration largely steered clear of specifics regarding Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities and did not set out what North Korea would expect to get in exchange for denuclearization.
The pledge to end the Korean War faces major hurdles — any final peace deal must also involve China and the US, both of whom were participants in the original conflict.
The Koreas went to war in 1950 when soldiers from the North Korean People’s Army invaded the South. Although the armed conflict ended three years later in 1953, with the signing of an armistice agreement, no formal peace treaty was ever signed, and technically, the peninsula remains at war.
US President Donald Trump and most of the US were asleep as the day’s events unfolded, but when Washington woke, Trump, who is due to meet Kim in May or June, tweeted all Americans “should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!”
“After a furious year of missile launches and nuclear testing, a historic meeting between North and South Korea,” he said. “Good things are happening, but only time will tell!”