North And South Korea Take Major Steps Toward Denuclearization In Historic Summit

The two leaders met for the first time in over a decade this week.

In a historic summit, the leaders of North and South Korea met for the first time in over a decade Friday. North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met near the DMZ — the demilitarized zone that marks the border between the two countries —to discuss the elimination of nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula, a decision that would have broad diplomatic effects around the world. The summit was the first time a North Korean leader stepped foot in South Korea since 1953.  

While the two countries signed a ceasefire in 1953 that ended the three-year Korean War, the document is an understanding between militaries as opposed to a declaration of the end of the war. Since then, North and South Korea have technically remained at war, but living under a mutual agreement of peace that, at times, has fluctuated in stability. 

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shakes hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in following the summit between their two countries.  REUTERS/Korea Summit Press Pool

In addition to meetings with officials, the two leaders planted a tree from 1953 in commemoration of that armistice and signed the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification on the Korean Peninsula, a document that commits the two countries to the denuclearization of the peninsula and to seek a formal end to the Korean War. 

"As I walked over here, I thought 'why was it so difficult to get here?' The separating line wasn't even that high to cross. It was too easy to walk over that line and it took us 11 years to get here," Kim told Moon and the gathered officials, CNN reports. 

Moon is credited with much of groundwork that was laid before this week's summit, which included inviting North Korea to participate in the Winter Olympics held in Pyeongchang last year. President Donald Trump is expected to meet with Kim Jong-un this summer.

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