South and North Korea have agreed to work toward eliminating all nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula and put a formal end to a seven-decade war.
North and South Korea agree to end nukes
The deal was made between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in at a historic summit.
“The South and the North confirmed the common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula,,” the statement said.
"Bringing an end to the current unnatural state of armistice and establishing a robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula is a historical mission that must not be delayed any further."
The announcement was made after a one-day summit that was full of symbolic moments and gestures of peace.
On Friday, Kim made history as he stepped into Seoul-controlled territory to meet Moon.
At the heavily armed demilitarized zone at the border, the two leaders shook hands as Kim crossed the line that separates the two countries that are technically still at war.
Holding Moon’s hand, Kim invited the president to cross into the North side for a few seconds before they went back to the South.
Flanked by guards dressed in traditional Korean costumes, they then walked towards the Peace House just south of the border, both smiling at the cameras.
“It’s a moment to write a new history of peace and prosperity,” Kim said at the start of the talks. He is the first North Korean leader to set foot in the South since 1953.
“I hope we talk frankly to reach an agreement and present a big gift for Koreans and the people around the world who wish for peace,” Moon replied.
The morning’s talks lasted for exact 90 minutes, according to President Moon’s spokesman Yoon Young-chan.
Kim said he had heard Moon had to wake up early because of North Korea's missile tests, and promised not to interrupt the president's sleep any more.
Days before the meeting, the North Korean leader said he would stop carrying out nuclear tests because the country has completed its goal of developing the weapons.
Kim also said he would be willing to visit Seoul if invited.
The joint-statement says Moon will visit Pyongyang in the autumn.
In the afternoon, Kim and Moon together planted a pine tree on the demarcation line, which symbolized “peace and prosperity.”
And then, they engaged in a private, and seemingly serious, conversation in the gardens at the the heavily fortified border village.
The landmark meeting, which followed a series of North Korea missile tests that led to tough international sanctions, was a diplomatic win for both governments, analysts say.
“Given that South Korea is emerging from a serious corruption scandal against the ex-president, it is really positive for Moon,” said Anwita Basu, an analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit.
“For Kim, he is basically saying: we have achieved the nuclear program, now look at us making friends and being accepted on the negotiation table.”
Since the Korean War ended in a cease-fire, South Korea has grown into the ranks of advanced economies, while the North, under Communist rule, is stifled by poverty.
The decades-long conflict between South and North Korea has produced many surprises in recent months.
The Friday summit was the first meeting between the two countries since 2007.
Although few concrete steps were announced, the encounter has likely set the tone for a planned meeting between Kim and US President Donald Trump.
Speaking in an interview on Fox News Channel on Thursday, Donald Trump said the date and location of his meeting with Kim had not been decided.
Both the US and South Korea have pledged that an agreement with the North could only be reached if Pyongyang agreed to permanent de-nuclearization.
Seoul said earlier this month that it was willing to offer political and economic incentives if Kim gives up the entire nuclear program completely.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula escalated throughout last year as Pyongyang conducted dozens of missile tests, as well as its largest nuclear test to date. In November, it tested a new missile capable of hitting the US mainland.
The tests prompted the United Nations to impose tough sanctions, including restrictions on Pyongyang’s energy imports and its exports of minerals, seafood and other products.
The country’s trade volume has plunged, especially after its traditional ally China stepped up enforcement of sanctions in mid-2017.
Last month, Kim visited Beijing to meet with President Xi Jinping in his first known overseas trip as North Korean leader.
On Friday, a spokeswoman at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Beijing hoped the Inter-Korea summit would lead to “positive results.”
Lee Seong-hyon, research fellow at the Sejong Institute in Seoul, said China would play an important role in Pyongyang's future negotiations with South Korea and the US.
Additional reporting by Grace Tsoi