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Kim Agrees to Dismantle Main Nuke Site 09/19 06:07

   The leaders of North and South Korea announced a wide range of agreements 
Wednesday which they said were a major step toward peace on the Korean 
Peninsula. But the premier pledge on denuclearization contained a big 
condition, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stating he'd permanently 
dismantle his main nuclear complex only if the United States takes 
corresponding measures.

   PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) -- The leaders of North and South Korea 
announced a wide range of agreements Wednesday which they said were a major 
step toward peace on the Korean Peninsula. But the premier pledge on 
denuclearization contained a big condition, with North Korean leader Kim Jong 
Un stating he'd permanently dismantle his main nuclear complex only if the 
United States takes corresponding measures.

   Compared to the vague language of their two summits earlier this year, Kim 
and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed in their second day of meetings 
to an ambitious program meant to tackle soaring tensions last year that had 
many fearing war as the North tested a string of increasingly powerful weapons.

   Kim promised to accept international inspectors to monitor the closing of a 
key missile test site and launch pad and to visit Seoul soon, and both leaders 
vowed to work together to try to host the Summer Olympics in 2032.

   But while containing several tantalizing offers, their joint statement 
appeared to fall short of the major steps many in Washington have been looking 
for --- such as a commitment by Kim to provide a list of North Korea's nuclear 
facilities, a solid step-by-step timeline for closing them down, or an 
agreement to allow international inspectors to assess progress or discover 
violations.

   The question is whether it will be enough for U.S. President Donald Trump to 
pick up where Moon has left off. Trump, tweeting about the Korean leaders' 
agreements, said, "Very exciting!"

   Declaring they had made a major step toward peace, Moon and Kim stood side 
by side as they announced the joint statement to a group of North and South 
Korean reporters after a closed-door meeting Wednesday morning. They took no 
questions.

   "We have agreed to make the Korean Peninsula a land of peace that is free 
from nuclear weapons and nuclear threat," Kim said 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. But we aren't afraid of headwinds 
because our strength will grow as we overcome each trial based on the strength 
of our nation."

   Kim and Moon earlier smiled and chatted as they walked down a hallway and 
into a meeting room to finalize the joint statement, which also said that the 
leaders would push for a Korean Peninsula without nuclear weapons and to 
"eliminate all the danger of war." Moon and Kim planned to visit a volcano 
sacred to the North on Thursday, the last day of Moon's visit.

   This week's summit comes as Moon is under increasing pressure from 
Washington to find a path forward in efforts to get Kim to completely --- and 
unilaterally --- abandon his nuclear arsenal.

   Trump has maintained that he and Kim have a solid relationship, and both 
leaders have expressed interest in a follow-up summit to their meeting in June 
in Singapore. North Korea has been demanding a declaration formally ending the 
Korean War, which was stopped in 1953 by a cease-fire, but neither leader 
mentioned it Wednesday as they read the joint statement.

   In the meantime, however, Moon and Kim made concrete moves of their own to 
reduce tensions on their border.

   According to a statement signed by the countries' defense chiefs, the two 
Koreas agreed to establish buffer zones along their land and sea borders to 
reduce military tensions and prevent accidental clashes. They also agreed to 
withdraw 11 guard posts from the Demilitarized Zone by December and to 
establish a no-fly zone above the military demarcation line that bisects the 
two Koreas that will apply to planes, helicopters and drones.

   Though not directly linked to security, the leaders' announcement that they 
would seek a joint Summer Olympics was a significant move in terms of easing 
tensions and building trust. It also flows from the North's decision to 
participate in the Pyeongchang Winter Games in February, which was regarded as 
a success for both sides.

   Other agreements aimed at removing some longstanding irritants from their 
relations, such as allowing more contact between families divided by the Korean 
War. Moon also appeared to be making good on his proposals to help build up the 
North's infrastructure and open cross-border rail links.

   Unlike Trump's initial tweets praising the summit, the news brought a quick 
and negative response from Republican Sen. 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.

   "While North Korea has stopped testing missiles and nuclear devices, they 
have NOT moved toward denuclearization," he tweeted.

   With the main business of the day complete, North Korea was expected to hold 
a huge mass games spectacle in the evening, with Moon as the special guest. 
Seoul said Moon would make a short speech.

   North Korea had put the iconic games, which feature tens of thousands of 
performers dancing and flipping placards in unison to create giant mosaics and 
slogans, on a back burner for the past several years, but revived them for this 
month's celebrations of its 70th founding anniversary. In a performance for the 
anniversary, a giant photo of Moon and Kim shaking hands at their first summit 
in April was projected onto one side of the stands in Pyongyang's 150,000-seat 
May Day Stadium.

   Kim has gone all out to make Moon's visit a memorable one. 

   On Tuesday, the first day of the summit, he greeted Moon and his wife at 
Pyongyang's airport and then rode into town with Moon in an open limousine 
through streets lined with crowds of North Koreans, who cheered and waved the 
flag of their country and a blue-and-white flag that symbolizes Korean unity.

   At the start of their meeting, Kim thanked Moon for brokering the June 
summit with Trump.

   "It's not too much to say that it's Moon's efforts that arranged a historic 
North Korea-U.S. summit. Because of that, the regional political situation has 
been stabilized and more progress on North Korea-U.S. ties is expected," Kim 
said, according to South Korean media pool reports and Moon's office.


(KA)

 
 
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