In an interview on CNN, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told Christiane Amanpour that President Donald Trump is largely responsible for inducing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to come to the negotiating table. "Clearly, credit goes to President Trump," Kang told Amanpour in Seoul. "He's been determined to come to grips with this from day one." 

The remarks became public before South Korean President Moon Jae-in held an historic meeting with Kim on Friday. Kang said that the détente between the leaders of the divided Korean Peninsula was unexpected. "I think we're all surprised. Obviously pleasantly surprised. I think by all indications we are headed towards a very successful summit between my president and Chairman Kim tomorrow."

Moon and Kim have pledged to eliminate the risk of nuclear warfare by working together to bring about the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. From the village of Panmunjom, which sits on the truce line between South Korea and North Korea, the national leaders held a one-day bilateral summit that seeks to achieve peace between the former adversaries. It wasw the first such meeting in more than 10 years. A peace treaty between the two sectors of the Korean Peninsula was never signed after the end of open hostilities in 1953.

Moon and Kim are seeking a "permanent" and "solid" peace on the Korean Peninsula. The two are promising to cooperate in achieving a peace regime, as well as the easing of military tensions. They also seek to improve relations between the two sectors with an aim at reunification.

Foreign Minister Kang said that while Presidents Trump and Moon may have had “different messaging," she insisted that that they cooperated. "At the end, the message was North Korea will not be accepted -- never be accepted as a nuclear power."

The North and South will seek to transform the currently fortified border into a "peace zone," while entering into multilateral negotiations with the United States and other powers while aiming at arms reduction and ceasing "hostile acts," according to the bilateral statement. They will hold high-level military meetings in May, while Moon has been scheduled to visit Pyongyang in the fall.

"We are at a starting line today, where a new history of peace, prosperity and inter-Korean relations is being written," Kim said. This followed a historic handshake with Moon on the heavily-fortified demilitarized zone. Kim called the North and South "brethren who should not live apart," and said that the countries "will become one." 

The summit sets the stage for a historic meeting between Trump and Kim that is expected in May or June. It would be the first meeting between an incumbent American president and a North Korean leader in history.


 

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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