Moon, Kim visit 'sacred' Mount Paektu

Need to Know North Korea Pledges to Shut Down Nuclear Test Sites in New Agreement

During the 2000 inter-Korean summit, then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il had also promised then-South Korean President Kim Dae-jung that he would visit South Korea.

"Chairman Kim expressed his wish that he wanted to complete denuclearization quickly and focus on economic development", Moon told a news conference in Seoul, describing his three-day summit with Kim in the North's capital of Pyongyang. "We have lived together for 5,000 years and lived in separation for 70 years".

In addition, he invited North Korean representatives to meet with U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun in Vienna, Austria, "at the earliest opportunity". Hawks and hardliners have demonstrated their approach to be a "total failure", Moon's administration argues.

Cheong Seong-chang, a North Korea expert at the Sejong Institute near Seoul, said the announcement shows that Kim has much more specific ideas now about denuclearization and what he wants in return and the next summit should have more specific results.

Moon's patient approach may be politically risky, but it is strategically safe. "This could very well set the conditions for the president to withdraw USA forces (from South Korea) as he has stated is his desire", Maxwell said.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in praised the North Korean offer. The alternative-the horrors of nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare that an invasion of North Korea would unquestionably entail-is unthinkable. However halting and frustrating negotiated progress will be, returning to conflict is indeed not an option.

"There is nothing the North has offered so far that would constitute irreversible movement toward denuclearisation, however you define that, by January 2021 or any other time, or even a reduction of the military threat it poses to the South and the region", said a U.S. intelligence official. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Mount Paekdu, which has a lake near its summit, also is the highest point on the Korean Peninsula. Are they playing us?

This line of argument makes for a snappy soundbite, but it is reckless in the extreme.

United States officials suggested Kim was trying to ease the economic pressure on him to curb his nuclear programs and to undercut the rationale for United States troops being based in South Korea by improving relations with Seoul.

In another notable first, Moon directly mentioned the North's denuclearization several times, including at his speech Wednesday in front of the 150,000 North Koreans attending the Mass Games performance. But there are worries among observers about whether Kim is as committed to denuclearization as he claims.

According to a statement signed by the countries' defence chiefs, the two Koreas agreed to establish buffer zones along their land and sea borders to reduce military tensions and prevent accidental clashes.

The Council of Foreign Relations' Scott Snyder said an end-of-war declaration in exchange for a declaration of North Korean assets appears to be under consideration. It is a very meaningful outcome.

North Korea has always been reticent of such outside scrutiny.

However, their premier accord on the issue that most worries the world - the North's pursuit of nuclear-tipped missiles that can accurately strike the USA mainland - contained a big condition: Kim Jong Un stated that he would permanently dismantle North Korea's main nuclear facility only if the United States takes unspecified corresponding measures.

A two-and-a-half-year timeline for denuclearization is precisely the sort of "right choices" Moon's summit will hopefully encourage.

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