Leaders of North and South Korea stunned the world with their agreement to end 65 years of hostilities against each other’s country and rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons, after holding an historic summit on Friday.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reports that North Korea President Kim Jong-un and US backed South Korea President Moon Jae-in made the announcement after talks at their border.
The two leaders also agreed to push towards turning the truce that ended the Korean War in 1953 into a peace treaty this year.
The summit came just months after warlike rhetoric from North Korea, a country dubbed by many in diplomatic circles as the most isolated state in the world.
In a remark at a banquet after the talks, Mr. Kim hailed the progress he said had been made, noting that “we bade farewell to the frozen relationship between North and South Korea, which was a nightmare. And we announced the beginning of a warm spring to the world” .
Details of how denuclearisation would be achieved, according the BBC, were not made clear and many analysts remain sceptical about the North’s apparent enthusiasm for engagement.
‘‘An issue for the North is the security guarantee extended by the US, a nuclear power, to South Korea and Japan and its military presence in both countries.
‘‘Previous inter-Korean agreements have included similar pledges but were later abandoned after the North resorted to nuclear and missile tests and the South elected more conservative presidents’’, the international news channel stated.
It quoted Mr. Kim as saying that “there may be backlash, hardship and frustration,” but “a victory cannot be achieved without pain”.
Besides, the two countries it was reported, also agreed to seek international support to reach this goal, the joint statement said.
China later praised the political determination and courage of both leaders and said it hoped the momentum could be maintained.
For his part, US President Donald Trump also welcomed the news, tweeting that “good things are happening”.
On a lighter note, Mr. Kim apologised to Mr. Moon for repeatedly forcing him to get up early because of the North’s missile and nuclear tests.
“I heard you (President Moon) had your early morning sleep disturbed many times to attend National Security Council meetings,” he said.
“I will make sure that your morning sleep won’t be disturbed,” he added.
“Now I can sleep in peace,” Mr. Moon replied.
Mr. Kim also acknowledged that the North’s infrastructure lagged behind that of the South.
“I’m worried that our transport situation is bad so it may discomfort you, it may be embarrassing (for me) if you visit North Korea after living in the South’s environment”, he said.
World leaders and governments hailed the historic summit between the leaders of North and South Korea as a step toward peace, but also sounded a note of caution about the challenges ahead, according to AFP.
During the first such summit in 11 years, the two countries agreed to pursue a permanent peace and the complete denuclearisation of the divided peninsula.
Responding to the historic announcement, AFP quoted US President Donald Trump, as saying on twitter that “Good things are happening, but only time will tell!”
In a second tweet, Trump wrote: “KOREAN WAR TO END! The United States, and all of its GREAT people, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!’’
“We applaud the Korean leaders’ historic step and appreciate their political decisions and courage”, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying told a press briefing.
“This is very positive news”, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, told reporters.
“Today we see that this direct dialogue has taken place (and) it has certain prospects”, Peskov said.
“The will to seek agreement can be seen on both sides, including the most important thing — the will to begin and continue dialogue. That is a positive fact”, he added.
“This is a first step, it is encouraging, but we have to realise there is still a lot of hard work that lies ahead of us”, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg cautiously said at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, Belgium.
UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres welcomed the “truly historic summit” in a statement.
Guterres “salutes the courage and leadership that resulted in the important commitments and agreed actions” and counts on the parties to “swiftly implement all agreed actions”, the statement added.
“He looks forward to these gains being consolidated and advanced at the summit between the leaders of the United States and the DPRK expected to take place in the near future”, it said, referring to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the North’s official name.
EU diplomatic chief, Federica Mogherini said the meeting “shows that the way to peace is possible, against all the odds”.
She said the bloc was ready to lend its “full support to the denuclearisation of the Peninsula’’.
“The European Union, today as always, stands on the side of peace, on the side of de-nuclearisation, and for a prosperous future for all Koreans,” she said in a statement.
“I am very encouraged by what’s happened. I don’t think that anyone looking at the history of North Korea’s plans to develop a nuclear weapon will be over-optimistic but it’s clearly good news that the two meet”, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said in Brussels.