Moon, Kim may get together seven or eight times in 3 days

Saul Bowman
September 20, 2018

A smiling Kim Jong Un embraced South Korean president Moon Jae-in upon his arrival in Pyongyang for their third summit on Tuesday.

SEOUL, Sept 18 (Reuters) - When South Korean President Moon Jae-in arrived on Tuesday to begin his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the wildly enthusiastic welcome in the streets of Pyongyang was in stark contrast to his lacklustre send-off from Seoul.

"Not a tentative change which could be volatile dependent on worldwide situation, but irreversible, permanent and unwavering peace, regardless of what might happen on the global arena", said Moon.

The Moon-Kim summit will mark the third of its kind since he took office in May 2017.

A group of about 150 business, sports, entertainment and government leaders streamed onto the plane before Moon's departure.

On Sunday, thousands of North Korean troops, followed by artillery and military tanks, paraded through Pyongyang, but the celebration lacked the usual jingoism that has been associated with the isolated regime for decades. They hoisted North Korean flags, flowers and flags depicting a unified Korean peninsula in blue against a white background.

Trump delayed a visit to North Korea by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in August, "because I feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", Trump tweeted.

Moon, himself the offspring of a family displaced by the war, has met Kim twice this year at the border village of Panmunjom.

In light of this week's summit in Pyeongyang, . we thought we'd take a look back at the previous two inter-Korean summits that took place this year between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

North Korea has embarked on an unprecedented series of meetings this year with both the South and the US.

Moon - whose own parents fled the North during the three-year conflict - is on a three-day trip, following in the footsteps of his predecessors Kim Dae-jung in 2000 and mentor Roh Moo-hyun in 2007. Those trips produced a slew of inter-Korean rapprochement projects, which were suspended after conservatives took power in Seoul.

"Thanks to that, the political situation in the region has stabilised and I expect more advanced results", Kim told Moon, referring to the Singapore gathering, at the start of their talks. He added that the degree to which the matter will be discussed and the level of consensus that Moon and Kim might reach would depend on their talks.

Moon is expected to return to Seoul on Thursday morning.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrive at the Paekhwawon State Guesthouse in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 18, 2018. Moon had hoped to break an impasse in talks with the United States over the North's denuclearization and breathe energy into his own efforts to expand and improve relations between the Koreas.

To achieve such a peace, Mr Moon said he will focus during the summit on easing military tensions between the Koreas and promoting a North Korea-U.S. dialogue on denuclearisation issues.

"It's clear that the leader of North Korea is trying to make a point to the United States: We may not be on the same page when it comes to denuclearization, but the Koreans are on the same page and we're going to move forward with our relationship", she said.

Support for the president had surged to more than 80 percent following his first historic summit with Kim in April and ahead of meeting between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump in June.

"There has to be a dramatic agreement to bridge the gap, such as the declaration of the end of the war by the US, and the North making some substantial steps in their nuclear disarmament", Tim Shorrock, a commentator on USA foreign policy, told UPI. The peninsula has remained split since the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty.

The South Korean delegation will also be treated to an art performance in the afternoon, which will be followed by a dinner event.

But presidential chief of staff Im Jong-seok said, "Everything - whether there will be an agreement in denuclearization - is still unknown".

Their meeting will also mark the fifth inter-Korean summit ever held.

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