South Korean President Moon Jae-in meets with North's leader Kim Jong-un inside the Demilitarised Zone dividing the two nations, a day after US President Donald Trump said his summit with Pyongyang could still go ahead.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Saturday to discuss Kim's possible upcoming summit with US President Donald Trump, the South said, the second inter-Korean summit in as many months.
Moon and Kim met just north of the heavily militarised border in the afternoon to exchange views to pave way for a summit between the North and the United States, South Korea's presidential office said.
Moon will announce the outcome of his two-hour meeting with Kim on Sunday morning, officials said.
The meeting between Moon and Kim took place in a grand building on the North Korean side of Panmunjom, a surreal and heavily fortified village that lies between the two countries and marks the spot where the armistice ending the Korean War in 1953 was signed.
26일 문재인 대통령과 김정은 국무위원장의 두번째 정상회담, 영상으로 전하는 현장 모습입니다. pic.twitter.com/fVyFt5j34o— 대한민국 청와대 (@TheBlueHouseKR) May 26, 2018
The meeting inside the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) dividing the two nations comes a day after the US president said his summit with Pyongyang could still go ahead.
The Blue House, South Korea's presidential office, said the two leaders held talks for two hours in the truce village of Panmunjom, where they had met last month and made a declaration vowing to improve ties.
"They exchanged views and discussed ways to implement the Panmunjom Declaration and to ensure a successful US North Korea summit," the Blue House said in a statement, adding further details would be released Sunday morning.
The meeting came hours after Seoul expressed relief over revived talks for a summit between Trump and Kim following a whirlwind day that saw Trump cancel the highly-anticipated meeting before saying it's potentially back on.
Trump later tweeted the summit, if it does happen, will likely take place on June 12 in Singapore as originally planned.
In their first summit in April, Kim and Moon announced vague aspirations for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and permanent peace, which Seoul has tried to sell as a meaningful breakthrough to set up the summit with Trump.
But relations between the rival Koreas chilled in recent weeks, with North Korea canceling a high-level meeting with Seoul over South Korea's participation in regular military exercises with the United States and insisting that it will not return to talks unless its grievances are resolved.
Fragility of Seoul as intermediary
South Korea, which brokered the talks between Washington and Pyongyang, was caught off guard by Trump's abrupt cancellation of the summit in which he cited hostility in recent North Korean comments.
Moon said Trump's decision left him "perplexed" and was "very regrettable." He urged Washington and Pyongyang to resolve their differences through "more direct and closer dialogue between their leaders."
Trump's back-and-forth over his summit plans with Kim has exposed the fragility of Seoul as an intermediary.
It fanned fears in South Korea that the country may lose its voice between a rival intent on driving a wedge between Washington and Seoul and an American president who thinks less of the traditional alliance with Seoul than his predecessors.
Trump's decision to pull out of the summit with Kim came just days after he hosted Moon in a White House meeting where he openly cast doubts on the Singapore meeting but offered no support for continued inter-Korean progress, essentially ignoring the North's recent attempts to coerce the South.
Moon and Kim *did* discuss the U.S.-North Korea summit “frankly” and how to make it a success. Moon is clearly pulling out all the stops to get this diplomatic effort back on track.— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) May 26, 2018
Will Kim fully relinquish his nukes?
Analysts say Kim's diplomatic outreach in recent months after a flurry of nuclear and missile tests in 2017 indicates he is eager for sanctions relief to build his economy and the international legitimacy the summit with Trump would provide.
But there's also skepticism whether Kim will ever agree to fully relinquish his nuclear arsenal, which he likely sees as his only guarantee of survival.
Comments in North Korea's state media indicate Kim sees any meeting with Trump as an arms control negotiation between nuclear states, rather than a process to surrender his nukes.
The North has said it will refuse to participate in talks where it would be unilaterally pressured to give up its nukes.
Washington has made it clear it wants to see the "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation" of the North.
But Pyongyang has vowed it will never give up its nuclear deterrent until it feels safe from what it terms US aggression.