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South, North Korea declare commitment to full denuclearization, ending war

By Jennie Oh
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South, North Korea declare commitment to full denuclearization, ending war
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announce the joint Panmunjom Declaration at the Peace House in the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, on Friday. Photo by Inter-Korean Summit Press Corps/UPI | License Photo

GOYANG, April 27 (UPI) -- The two Koreas have reached a landmark Panmunjeom Agreement to achieve full denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and agreed to pursue a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War.

South and North Korean leaders Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong Un signed and declared an agreement Friday after their historic summit talks at the Peace House building, on South Korea's side of the Panmunjeom border village.

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"Chairman Kim and I have set an unshakeable milestone on the denuclearization, permanent peace and the shared prosperity of the people on the Korean Peninsula," Moon said in a joint briefing with Kim after they signed the document.

The three-part document specifies ways to fulfill the improvement of inter-Korean relations to seek common prosperity and unification; the easing of military tensions between the two sides; and the permanent establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula.

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"I became profoundly aware that the South and North cannot live separately, as we are flesh and blood and compatriots," Kim said. "We are not two different nations that should fight one another but, we are the same people, of the same blood, who must unite and live peacefully."

As highly anticipated, the two leaders decided to seek a formal end to their state of war and establish a peace treaty through trilateral efforts with the United States or a four-way meeting including China.

South and North Korea are technically still at war as their 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice signed by the U.S.-led United Nations Command, North Korea and China.

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Seoul and Pyongyang will also refrain from using force on one another as part of measures to ease military tensions and strive to build trust through a step-by-step process, according to the document.

"Through our firm trust in each other, Kim and I will hold regular summits and direct phone calls frequently," Moon said.

He plans to visit Pyongyang this fall, according to the agreement.

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The president added that government officials will also "closely talk and cooperate," and civilian exchanges and cooperation will also take place for the reconciliation of the Korean people.

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Under the agreement, the two Koreas will establish a joint liaison office in the North's industrial area of Kaesong to enable "close coordination" between two governments as well as ensure smooth civilian exchanges and cooperation.

The document also declares the resumption of meetings between war-separated Korean family members from Aug. 15, when Koreans celebrate the anniversary of its liberation from Japanese occupation.

Meetings between family members who have been separated for nearly 70 years have been stalled since 2015, after ties between the two Koreas deteriorated under the previous conservative administration.

Since taking office last year, the South Korean president has reached out to Pyongyang, urging reconciliation as well as denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, in his vision for peace and prosperity for the two Koreas.

A month into his presidency, he requested the North's participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and Paralympics hosted in the South, from February to March this year.

Months later, in his New Year's address, Kim expressed his urge to build peace with the South as well as send North Korean athletes to the Winter Games.

Since then, Seoul and Pyongyang have seen a growing atmosphere for dialogue on peace and denuclearization, with various cultural, sports and high-level exchanges between the two sides.

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In March, Moon's special envoy to the North, Chung Eui-yong, conveyed Kim's willingness to hold summit talks on denuclearization with South Korea and the United States.

The historic meeting between the Moon and Kim took place at 9:30 a.m. Seoul time.

It marked the first time an inter-Korean summit has been held on the Southern side of the border, and the first time a North Korean leader crossed the Military Demarcation Line that divides the two Koreas.

"I believe all people in the South and North will also be able to walk the road I walked today [across the border], and that Panmunjom, which represents the pain of our nation, will be able to enjoy prosperity, after the South and North become one, as they were before," Kim said.

The finer details of denuclearization and negotiation on the terms are expected to be addressed by Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump, during their proposed summit in the coming weeks.

Trump has said the meeting is likely to occur in late-May or early June.

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