The leaders of North Korea and South Korea have vowed to finally end the Korean conflict, which has been merely dormant since the two sides ended outright war with an armistice 65 years ago.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un crossed the border into the south side of the demilitarized zone on Friday morning for a historic meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. In the afternoon, local time, the two issued a joint statement in which they said they would hold talks on establishing a formal peace treaty.
The countries will work towards ridding the peninsula of nuclear weapons, and the border area will become a “peace zone,” the leaders said.
“We hope we will not repeat our mistake of the past,” said Kim. “I hope this will be an opportunity for the two Korean peoples to move freely from North to South. We need to take responsibility for our own history.”
According to the joint statement, all propaganda activities will stop on May 1st. The two Koreas’ defense ministers will meet in that month, and Moon will visit Pyongyang in the fall. The countries will work to “ease the sharp military tensions on the Korean peninsula.”
Kim is due to meet U.S. President Donald Trump around May or June. However, Trump said last week that he would pull out of the meeting if he thought it wouldn’t be “fruitful.”
While Friday’s announcement was reportedly short on details about how denuclearization would be achieved, it may ensure that Trump comes to the table.
A week ago, Kim made the surprise announcement that North Korea was suspending its nuclear tests. While this set the stage for this Friday’s meeting, it subsequently emerged that the north’s nuclear test site is out of commission, as the last test—in September 2017—partially collapsed the mountain above it.
The Korean War ran between 1950 and 1953, claiming millions of lives. The U.S. backed the South, while China and the Soviet Union backed the North.