North Korea's Kim Jong-un made history on Friday by crossing over the Military Demarcation Line in the world’s most heavily armed border that divides the Korean peninsula to greet South Korean president Moon Jae-in for talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons.
It's the first time the head of the Kim dynasty has set foot on southern soil since the end of the Korean War in 1953 and the latest bid to settle the world's last Cold War standoff.
The overwhelming focus of the summit, the country's third-ever, will be on North Korea's growing arsenal of nuclear weapons.
Kim's news agency said earlier Friday that the leader would "open-heartedly" discuss with Moon "all the issues arising in improving inter-Korean relations."
The greeting of the two leaders was planned to the last detail.
Moon stood near the Koreas' dividing line, moving forward the moment he glimpsed Kim, dressed in dark, Mao-style suit, appearing in front of a building on the northern side. They shook hands with the borderline between them. Moon then invited Kim to cross into the South, and after he did so, Kim invited Moon back into the North. They then took a ceremonial photo facing the North and then another photo facing the South.
Two fifth-grade students from the Daesongdong Elementary School, the only South Korean school within the DMZ, greeted the leaders and gave the Kim flowers. Kim and Moon then saluted an honor guard and military band, and Moon introduced Kim to South Korean government officials. Kim returned the favor with the North Korean officials accompanying him. They then took a photo inside the Peace House, where the summit was to take place, in front of a painting of South Korea's Bukhan Mountain, which towers over the South Korean Blue House presidential mansion.
"I feel like I’m firing a flare at the starting line in the moment of (the two Koreas) writing a new history in North-South relations, peace, and prosperity,” Kim told Moon as they sat at a table, its precise dimension of 2018 millimeters separating them, to begin their closed-door talks. Moon responded that there were high expectations that they produce an agreement that will be a “big gift to the entire Korean nation and every peace-loving person in the world".
Earlier, both leaders smiled broadly as Moon grasped Kim’s hand and led him along a blindingly red carpet into South Korean territory, where school children gave Kim flowers and an honor guard stood at attention for inspection, a military band playing traditional Korean folk songs beloved by both Koreas and the South Korean equivalent of “Hail to the Chief.”
With inputs from AP
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Updated Date: Apr 27, 2018 09:19:58 IST