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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Live updates: Korea summit - North and South leaders meet 

Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in have met for a summit expected to pave the way for future rapprochement

South Korean president Moon Jae-in, right, shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during their meeting at the Peace House at the truce village. Korea Summit Press Pool / Pool via Reuters
South Korean president Moon Jae-in, right, shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during their meeting at the Peace House at the truce village. Korea Summit Press Pool / Pool via Reuters

North Korea's Kim Jong-un crossed the heavily militarised border on Friday for the first summit with South Korea in more than a decade, as the old foes seek to end their decades-long conflict and ease tensions over the North's nuclear weapons programme.

The summit with South Korean president Moon Jae-in will set the stage for Mr Kim to meet with US president Donald Trump in late May or early June, in what will be an unprecedented first encounter between sitting leaders of the two countries.

1.40pm:

6:35 p.m. North and South Korea have agreed to stop all hostile acts over “land, sea and air”

Starting May 1, the Koreas will suspend all loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts the countries have been blaring at each other across their heavily-armed border. They will also dismantle broadcasting equipment.

The Koreas also agreed to stop flying propaganda leaflets across their border.

The countries also agreed to take steps to defuse the relatively frequent clashes around their western maritime border by designating the area as a “peace zone” and guarantee safe operations of fishermen from both countries.

The Koreas plan to hold military talks in May to further discuss reducing tensions.

1.30pm: Moon to visit North in the autumn

The two Koreas have agreed for South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in to visit Pyongyang sometime this autumn.

A joint statement did not say when Mr Moon would visit Pyongyang. But it said Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will meet on a regular basis and exchange calls via a recently established hotline.

1.15pm: Koreas to push for peace treaty to formally end 1950-53 Korean War

North and South Korea say they will jointly push for talks with the United States and potentially China to officially end the 1950-53 Korean War, which stopped in an armistice and left the Koreas still technically at war.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean president Moon Jae-in announced after their summit on Friday that the Koreas will push for three-way talks including Washington or four-way talks that also include Beijing on converting the armistice into a peace treaty and establishing permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.

The Koreas said they hope the parties will be able to declare an official end to the war by the end of this year.

While President Donald Trump has given his “blessing” for the Koreas to discuss an end to the war, there can be no real solution without the involvement of Washington and other parties that fought in the war because South Korea wasn’t a direct signatory to the armistice that stopped the fighting.

1pm: Koreas agree to ride peninsula of nuclear weapons

The two Koreas have agreed to rid their peninsula of nuclear weapons but failed to provide any new specific measures how to achieve that.

A joint statement issued after their leaders’ talks Friday says the two Koreas confirmed their goal of achieving “a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula through complete denuclearisation.”

North Korea has placed its nuclear weapons up for negotiations. It has previously used the term “denuclearisation” to say it can disarm only when the United States withdraws its 28,500 troops in South Korea.

The statement did not say what other specific disarmament steps North Korea would take.

12.40pm: Some pictures from today's summit

12.20pm: Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in walk back to the building

The leaders have talked privately for around 30 minutes sitting on chairs at a blue bridge in the village.

12pm: The two leaders tend to a pine tree at the Truce Village

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have poured a mixture of soil and water from both countries onto a pine tree at the truce village as a symbol of peace before resuming their highly anticipated summit.

Kim and Moon have also unveiled a stone plaque placed next to the tree that was engraved with a message saying “Peace and Prosperity Are Planted.”

The pine tree was planted to 1953, the year the Korean War ended in an armistice. The soil and water were brought from the Koreas’ mountains and rivers.

Kim Jong-un, left, and Moon Jae-n, the two Korean leaders participate in a tree-planting ceremony. Korea Summit Press Pool / Korea Summit Press Pool
Kim Jong-un, left, and Moon Jae-n, the two Korean leaders participate in a tree-planting ceremony. Korea Summit Press Pool / Korea Summit Press Pool

The leaders then talked while walking unaccompanied on a nearby bridge before they are expected to resume the afternoon session of their summit at Panmunjom.

Mr Kim at one point was seen waving away photographers as he and Moon continued their talks sitting on chairs placed at the bridge.

11am: The Korean leaders are expected to jointly announce the outcome of their summit in a few hours.

The leaders will resume their meetings in the afternoon after planting a memorial tree. Mr Moon’s office said he and Mr Kim are expected to announce the results of their meeting before attending a banquet scheduled for 2.30pm UAE time.

Also invited to the dinner are famous cultural figures from both countries, including the North’s Hyon Song-wol, the leader of Mr Kim’s hand-picked Moranbong girl band, and South Korean pop star Cho Yong-pil.

10.10am: Kim Jong-un's wife will cross into the South to attend a banquet after the summit.

Mr Kim was accompanied by a group of top officials but his wife, Ri Sol-ju, was not present. The banquet will also be attended by Mr Moon’s wife Kim Jung-sook.

10am: Reaction from Japan and Australia

9.40am: Seoul says the leaders of the two Koreas had “sincere, candid” talks on the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”and other issues during their summit talks.

Seoul said the two Koreas are working on a joint statement to be issued after their one-day meeting.

9.30am: North Koreans are reacting to news their leader is holding a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in with cautious expressions of support.

Though South Koreans and much of the world were able to watch some of the key summit events live, the only news available from North Korea’s state media was a brief dispatch that Kim Jong-un had departed the capital to meet Mr Moon inside the Demilitarized Zone.

State television was expected to report on the summit later in the day.

In the meantime, residents of the capital kept their comments short.

Pyongyang resident Jin Kum-il, referring to the ruling party’s daily newspaper, said: “This meeting is coming after more than 10 years and I hope it’s successful.”

Another resident Kim Song-hui is noting Kim has made it clear this year he intends to repair ties with Seoul.

She told an AP Television News crew: “Our respected Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un already in his New Year’s address this year stressed the importance of improving relations between North and South.”

9am:

South Korean conservative activists have set fire to North Korean flags during a protest against the summit talks between the leaders of the two Koreas.

They set on fire two paper North Korean flags with the images of Kim and his late father and grandfather.

They also chanted slogans including “Step down, Moon Jae-in!”

Here's the latest from the morning meeting:

8.20am: South Korea says Kim Jong-un made a reference to North Koreans who escaped from the country while discussing prospects of peace between the rivals.

Yoon Young-chan, the presidential spokesman, said Mr Kim mentioned the defectors among people who have high expectations for the summit to heal scars and improve relations between the rivals.

Mr Yoon quoted Mr Kim as saying: “We should value this opportunity so that the scars between the South and North could be healed.

"The border line isn’t that high; it will eventually be erased if a lot of people pass over it."

North Korea normally expresses anger toward defectors and often accuses South Korea of abducting or enticing its citizens to defect.

Around 30,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

7.45am: Kim Jong-un made a reference to a South Korean island targeted by a North Korean artillery attack that killed four in 2010.

Moon Jae-in’s senior spokesman said Mr Kim said the residents of Yeonpyeong Island who have been living under the fear of North Korean artillery attacks and also families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War have high hopes for the inter-Korean talks to help heal past scars.

Mr Moon called for more meetings between the leaders and said he wishes to travel in North Korea to visit Mount Paektu near the country’s border with China.

Mr Kim said the trip under current conditions would be uncomfortable, but the North would improve its transportation networks should Mr Moon decided to visit. Mr Kim also said the North Korean delegation during their visit to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February came back impressed by the South’s bullet train services.

Mr Moon in response said the people of both Koreas would be able to enjoy high-speed train services if relations improve and the countries connect their rail networks across borders.

7.05am: The leaders have finished the morning session of their summit at a border truce village.

6.45am: Kim Jong-un has thanked the South Korean president for greeting him at a “historic place” ahead of their meeting at the border truce village of Panmunjom.

At the historic moment when the two leaders shook hands across the Military Demarcation line that bisects the rivals, Mr Kim said that his heart “keeps throbbing”.

Mr Moon replied to Kim’s thanks by saying that the North Korean leader made a “very courageous decision” to come to the South.

The high-stakes summit is aimed at resolving the standoff over the North’s nuclear weapons

The closed-door talks are ongoing.

6.10am:

The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has given his younger sister a place at the negotiating table for the first North-South Korea summit in more than a decade.

Kim Yo-jong has emerged as the most visible member of the regime after her brother — since she became the first member of the ruling North Korean family to travel to the South in early February for the Olympics.

The two Koreas sit down for talks.Korea Summit Press Pool / Pool via Reuters
The two Koreas sit down for talks.Korea Summit Press Pool / Pool via Reuters

She was in Mr Kim’s delegation as he walked across the line that divides the two Koreas on Friday morning and took a seat beside him as he started his first round of talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

The only other North Korean official present was former intelligence chief Kim Yong-chol, the top official in charge of relations with the South.

6am: Three key agendas

Here's a look at the expected agenda from Friday's summit:

Denuclearisation

The success of the summit largely depends on negotiations centered on the North’s commitment to nuclear disarmament.

Permanent peace

The Korean Peninsula is one of the most volatile areas on Earth, with hundreds of thousands of combat-ready soldiers from the two Koreas deployed along the mine-strewn border. That’s largely because the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War has yet to be replaced with a peace treaty.

Mr Moon said the two Koreas should formally agree to stop the war and sign a peace treaty, days after Mr Trump gave his “blessing” for them to discuss an end of the war.

Improving ties

The two leaders will also likely discuss how to mend ties strained during nearly a decade of conservative rule in South Korea before Moon took office last May.

5.45am: This was the message that Kim Jong-un delivered in front of the cameras in the summit room: "We should have a positive meeting and going forward we should be determined. If we can get our heads together then the 11 years lost [since the last talks like this] can be made up. And if we can open our hearts to speak and if we can draw positive results from this meeting that would be good. And instead of going ... to the drawing board we should move forward."

5.30am: The leaders have emerged from their personal meeting and are holding another one in front of the press. Mr Moon said Mr Kim had been brave to come to the summit.

5.15am: The White House has released a statement about the meeting, praising the two nations for coming together.

"On the occasion of Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in's historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, we wish the Korean people well. We are hopeful that talks will achieve progress toward a future of peace and prosperity for the entire Korean Peninsula.The United States appreciates the close coordination with our ally, the Republic of Korea, and looks forward to continuing robust discussions in preparation for the planned meeting between President Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong Un in the coming weeks."

4.45am: The two leaders pose with their respective delegations for photographs before they set off on their own and head towards the Peace House. Lots of laughing and smiling between the leaders, extraordinary scenes. They head into the building now for the summit. Kim now sits down to sign the guest book at the Peace House. There is a picture of a symbolic mountain in North Korea which has been put up on the wall, all contributing to the mood music. More photographs and then the pair head into the summit room.

4.40am: President Moon Jae-in salutes as a military band plays what is probably the South Korean anthem. Now the pair have walked off the podium they were on to listen and are walking past the serried ranks of military troops and people in traditional dress. Kim is being given the full honour that a foreign head of state would receive, despite the two countries remaining formally at war. Kim is now shaking hands with members of the South Korean cabinet, including the foreign minister.

The historic handshake between the two Korean leader. SCREENGRAB
The historic handshake between the two Korean leader. SCREENGRAB

4.35am: The pair of leaders are walking surrounded by musicians dressed in traditional Korean attire that predates the splitting of the two nations. Lots of smiles, applause from the South Korean crowds. The leaders are walking along a red carpet to the Peace House. Soon they will plant a tree together, apparently.

4.30am: Kim Jong-Un and the North Korean delegation have arrived and has shaken hands with his South Korean counterpart. This is the first time a North Korean leader has crossed into the south of the country since the Korean war.

4.25am (Abu Dhabi): Final preparations are afoot with the South Korean president Moon and his delegation having arrived at the Peace House ahead of the summit.

Korean Summit: What's on the agenda?

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