North and South Korea make breakthrough agreement

Hannah Rogers
September 19, 2018

As a next step, North Korea will allow experts from "concerned countries" to watch the closure of its missile engine testing site and launch pad in the northwestern town of Dongchang-ri, according to a joint statement signed by Moon and Kim.

That's a herculean challenge for North Korea, whose moribund economy, limited transportation infrastructure, lack of facilities for global guests and.

The concessions, to be sure, are not particularly costly for North Korea and do not set it on the path towards nuclear disarmament, but will bear particular significance in their ability to reinvigorate the stalled diplomatic process between South Korea's ally, the United States, and North Korea.

"Moon and I have agreed to make the Korean peninsula a region without nuclear weapons, nor nuclear threats", Kim said.

"We can take military measures to achieve the objective of the "armistice agreement" by making the demilitarized zone into peace zone for the first time in 65 years", the defense ministry said in a separate statement.

This captured image from a live broadcast of the inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang shows South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un holding the summit agreement they signed on September 19, 2018.

Moon on Wednesday acknowledged, "there will be challenges and trials, but the more we overcome them the stronger we will become".

Speaking at a joint press conference with Mr Moon, Kim also said he will visit the South's capital Seoul "in the near future".

It's been more than three months since Kim met US President Donald Trump in Singapore, and negotiations between the two sides appear to have hit an impasse.

The statement also said Kim would visit Seoul in the near future.

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Moon replied that any progress has been possible thanks to Kim's "bold decision" to open a new era and added that he hopes their talks will bear abundant fruit.

Though not directly linked to security, the leaders' announcement that they would seek a joint Summer Olympics was a significant move in terms of easing tensions and building trust.

Other agreements aimed at removing some longstanding irritants from their relations - such as allowing more contact between families divided by the Korean War.

The pledge to close Yongbyong is also a clever play by North Korea. Lindsey Graham, who tweeted he was concerned the visit would undermine efforts by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley to impose "maximum pressure" on Pyongyang.

North Korea has repeatedly slammed the USA for failing to uphold its end of the Singapore agreement, which many analysts criticized for failing to specify a timeframe for Kim to give up his nuclear weapons.

Bruce Bennett, of the RAND Corporation in California, said Moon's strategy could put Seoul at odds with the United States.

At its heyday, the tours to the East Coast border resort, operated by a unit of the Hyundai conglomerate, were a $40 million-a-year moneyspinner for the impoverished North. The summit with Moon, he said, suggested "that North Korea is going to take additional steps if there is progress".

"Kim Yo Jong is an authority figure", Philo Kim, an associate professor at the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University, told ABC News.

Nam also said the increased exchanges between North and South Korea harmed Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign created to force Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.

Moon is expected to speak with Trump after this week's event, and Trump will then decide if he'll accept Kim's invitation. A commentary run by the ruling party newspaper on Tuesday, the day Moon arrived, took care of that - blaming Washington's "stubborn" and "gangster-like" demands for the North to unilaterally give up its nuclear weapons as the sole cause of the breakdown in U.S.

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