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History in the making as South Korean President Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong shake hands

Kim Jong Un has declared “a new history begins now” after shaking hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the start of a landmark peace summit.

Kim Jong-un will become the first North Korean leader to set foot in South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

Seoul is confident that this third-ever summit between the two Koreas will lead to a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization on the Korean peninsula. But skeptics doubt that’s what the North intends.

To Kim’s credit, he declared a “new strategic line” last week to focus on economic development, claiming that because he’s achieved “victory” in becoming a nuclear power, North Korea is ready to take its share of responsibility to denuclearize.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, March 28, 2018 and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, right, March 23, 2018.

Kim took the first step, even before his scheduled summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Trump, by announcing the North will suspend nuclear and missile tests and shut down its Poongyeri nuclear test site.

Kim and Moon sat down for the beginning of the summit and made brief remarks in from of the cameras.

Kim said he wanted to hold “frank” discussions on current issues and hoped the summit could lead to a “good outcome”. I hope to write a new chapter between us, this is the starting point for us. We will make a new beginning,” he said. “It has taken 11 years for this historic moment to happen. Walking here I wondered why it has taken so long.”

“Through today’s meeting, I hope we won’t go back to square one again and non-implementation of what we agree won’t happen again,” he added, referring to past agreements that were signed but fizzled. “I hope we can live up to the exceptions that other have on us”, and “I hope there can be agreements to fulfill those great expectations.”

The two leaders sit down for talks. Photograph: Reuters Tv/Reuters

Moon then made a few opening remarks before journalists were asked to leave.

“I hope the whole world is paying attention to the Spring that is spreading throughout the Korean peninsula,” he said. “There is a huge burden on our shoulders. People around the world have high hopes.”

“Your visit makes the military demarcation line a symbol of peace, not division,” he added. “I thank you very much for your courage. Our dialogue and talks today will be very frank. We will finally have the dialogue we haven’t been able to have for the past decade.”

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