Trump Calls Latest Developments in North Korea ‘Very Exciting’

Larry Hoffman
September 20, 2018

The second round of inter-Korean talks wrapped up Wednesday with the signing of the September Pyongyang Declaration and a comprehensive military agreement.

Kim Jong Un, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday signed a document after their second face-to-face dialogue in Pyongyang.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in says Pyongyang has agreed to "permanently dismantle" Nyongbyon nuclear facility if there are corresponding measures from the USA, after a summit with the North's Kim Jong-un, a development hailed by Trump.

Moon prefaced this plan by noting the U.S. needed to reciprocate the measure, though it was unclear what he had in mind.

Washington has demanded concrete action toward denuclearization, such as a full disclosure of North Korea's nuclear and missile facilities, before agreeing to key goals of Pyongyang, including an easing of worldwide sanctions and an official end to the Korean War.

Residents of Pyongyang, North Korea gather in a plaza outside the city's main train station to watch the news of South Korean President Moon Jae-in's visit on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2018.

Although North Korea has unilaterally stopped nuclear and missile tests in the past year, it did not allow global inspections of the dismantling of its main nuclear test site in May, drawing criticism that its action was for show and could be easily reversed. Moon prefaced this plan by noting the U.S. needed to reciprocate the measure, though it was unclear what specifically he had in mind.

"We have agreed to make the Korean Peninsula a land of peace that is free from nuclear weapons and nuclear threat", Kim said as he stood by Moon's side at the guesthouse where Moon is staying.

"The road to our future will not always be smooth and we may face challenges and trials we can't anticipate".

The announcement after the meeting - where the South and North Korean heads also signed a broad peace agreement aimed at continuing denuclearisation efforts in the region - sees the two countries become the latest to express an interest in hosting the 2032 Olympics and Paralympics.

"A visitor to PyeongChang said the high-speed train was very good", Kim said of the bullet train services that the South ran to the Olympic venue.

All inter-Korean summits have taken place either in Pyongyang or at the border village of Panmunjom. This could be a reference to Kim's insistence that Trump promised he would declare the Korean War to be officially over.

On Wednesday, Moon was scheduled to visit Mansudae Art Studio - an entity that was blacklisted by the Security Council a year ago for earning cash to fund its arms program by erecting monuments and military facilities in African countries.

Witnessed by the two leaders, defense chiefs of the two countries also signed an agreement on reducing military tensions on the peninsula. Lindsey Graham, who tweeted that 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 the North.

Kim has previously committed to working toward denuclearization, in joint statements with both Moon and Trump. Conversely, Trump has publicly sought to drive a wedge between China and the North, at times accusing China of slowing the diplomatic process.

Moon said, "The South and North have agreed on ways to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula for the first time".

"President Moon apparently hopes that President Trump will simply agree with doing what North Korea wants".

North Korea has frozen missile and nuclear tests, blown up entrances to its underground nuclear test site and started the dismantling of a missile engine test facility.

President Donald Trump called the developments encouraging but made no new commitments.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to launch a joint bid for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games at a summit in Pyongyang today.

But while containing several tantalizing offers, it appears to fall short of the major steps many in Washington had been looking for - such as a commitment by Pyongyang to provide a list of the North's nuclear facilities, a solid step-by-step timeline or an agreement to allow global inspectors in to assess progress or discover violations.

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