North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un crossed the Demilitarized Zone early Friday morning into South Korea for an historic meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
BREAKING: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un makes history, crosses southern border to meet rival Moon for summit on nuke crisis.
— The Associated Press (@AP) April 27, 2018
It marks the first time a sitting North Korean leader has entered South Korean-controlled territory since the Korean War.
The two leaders shook hands across the border line as Kim Jong Un stepped into South Korea.
Moon Jae-in also stepped onto the North Korean side for a brief moment before the men walked together to the Peace House, a conference building on the South Korean side of the border village of Panmunjom where their much-anticipated meeting took place.
“A new history begins now – at the starting point of history and the era of peace,” read the message Kim Jong Un wrote in a guestbook at the Peace House.
According to North Korean state-run media, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Kim Jong Un is willing to “open-heartedly” talk to Moon about “all the issues arising in improving inter-Korean relations and achieving peace, prosperity and reunification of the Korean peninsula.”
The men were also expected to discuss the possibility of officially ending the Korean War, which was halted with an armistice in July 1953, but no other declaration or peace treaty has ever been introduced.
The White House praised the symbolic meeting in a statement issued Thursday night.
“We are hopeful that talks will achieve progress toward a future of peace and prosperity for the entire Korean peninsula,” the statement read. “The United States appreciates the close coordination with our ally, the Republic of Korea, and looks forward to continuing robust discussions in preparation for Trump and Kim’s summit, expected to be held in May or early June.”
The meeting between Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in is no doubt a momentous occasion rich with symbolism.
A U.S. ally, South Korea now sits in the middle of some of the fiercest nuclear weapons negotiations in recent times. Friday’s summit could be an indication if peaceful negotiations to remove North Korea’s nuclear weapons is a possibility, and the South Korean president has expressed his desire to play a role in helping, if possible.
“What we can do is to try to help the North and the United States reach an agreement, helping them narrow their differences and seeking and presenting practical ideas both sides can accept,” Moon said, according to the New York Times, adding that he may have only one shot to get it right. “This is an opportunity that will not come again.”