SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un affirmed his commitment to "completing" the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and a planned meeting with US President Donald Trump, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Sunday.
In Washington, US President Donald Trump signaled that preparations were in progress for a summit meeting with Kim on June 12, despite the fact that the meeting had been canceled last week.
Moon and Kim at a surprise meeting on Saturday agreed that the potential North Korea U.S. Summit must take place, Moon said at a press conference in Seoul.
"Chairman Kim and I agreed that the June 12 summit will be held successfully and that our search for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and a regime of eternal peace should not be stopped," said Moon.
The meeting was the last dramatic turn in a week of diplomatic ups and downs that saw the prospects for an unprecedented summit between the United States and North Korea and the strongest indication that the two Korean leaders were back on the track.
A statement by the North Korean news agency KCNA states that Kim has expressed his "strong will" to see Trump hit as planned.
Moon, returning to Seoul after meeting with Trump in Washington on Thursday morning to keep the high-level US North Korea summit on track, said he announced Trump's "firm determination" to end the hostile relationship with North Korea and pursue bilateral economic cooperation.
In a letter to Kim on Thursday, Trump had said that he canceled the planned Singapore summit, citing North Korea's "open hostility."
But on Saturday, Trump said he was still on a June 12 date for a summit in Singapore, adding that the talks went very well.
"We are very good with regard to the summit with North Korea," said Trump in the White House. "It's moving very well, so we're going to Singapore on June 12, it has not changed, so we'll see what happens."
A team from the White House will be heading to Singapore this weekend as planned Traveling to prepare for the possible summit, a White House spokeswoman said on Saturday.
(For a chart on a nuclear test site, click tmsnrt.rs/2wGynpf)
(For a chart on nuclear North Korea, click tmsnrt.rs/2Kql12i)
Remains stuck Committed to denuclearization, Moon acknowledged that Pyongyang and Washington have different expectations of what that means, and he called on both sides to hold talks at the working level to resolve their differences.
"Although they share the same determination, discussions on the roadmap need to be conducted on how this can be done, and this process could be difficult," he said, declining to define "complete denuclearization."
The Trump administration has demanded that North Korea completely and irreversibly close its nuclear weapons program. Kim's and Trump's first decision to meet was followed by months of wartime threats and insults between the leaders about the program.
American officials are skeptical that Kim will ever completely abandon his nuclear arsenal, and Moon said North Korea is not yet convinced that it can trust United States security guarantees.
"However, during the US-South Korea Summit, President Trump has clearly stated that we can see not only the end of hostile relations but also economic cooperation if North Korea denuclearises," Moon said. "I urge North Korea and the US to confirm their mutual will by sharing their problems and communicating directly with each other."
A senior South Korean official later said that the two Koreas are discussing a possible non-aggression patent and starting to discuss peace negotiations to address Pyongyang's security concerns ahead of US-North Korean negotiations.
"BETTER THAN A TELEPHONE CALL"
Moon said he had held the impromptu summit on Saturday – the second summit between the two sides in a month – after Kim had asked for a meeting "without formality".
"A meeting was held because the officials of both countries thought that a face-to-face meeting would be better than a phone call," Moon said, noting that the summit was in line with earlier leaders' earlier agreements more often hold true.
Their talks in the Panmunjom Border Village, which took two hours, according to the South Korean officials, came after their meeting on April 27, the first in-country summit in more than a decade, also held in the same location. At the meeting, they said they would work towards a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and a formal end to the Korean War of 1950-1953.
The KCNA statement said that Kim and Moon had agreed to hold high-level talks between their two nations on June 1 and to take action to quickly implement their efforts to denuclearize the peninsula. KCNA said the leaders also agreed to meet frequently.
The agency said the two leaders had reached a "satisfactory consensus" and declared "their willingness to make joint efforts for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula".
Video and photo of South Korean President Blue House on Saturday Kim hugged Moon and kissed him three times on the cheek as he met Moon after their meeting in Tongilgak, the building of the North in the Ceasefire Village located in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) – 4 km wide – saw buffers running along the heavily armed military border.
Additional coverage of Soyoung Kim, Choonsik Yoo and Jeongmin Kim in SEOUL; Arrangement of Raju Gopalakrishnan