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Kim Jong Un, Moon Jae-in plant tree for peace at Korean border

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a landmark summit Friday after a highly symbolic handshake over the Military Demarcation Line that divides their countries.

world Updated: Apr 27, 2018 14:18 IST
Reuters
Reuters
Reuters, Seoul
Kim Jong-un,Moon Jae-in,North Korea
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attend tree planting ceremony during the inter-Korean summit at the truce village of Panmunjom, in this still frame taken from video, South Korea April 27, 2018. (REUTERS)

The leaders of the two Koreas planted a pine tree on the heavily fortified border dividing their countries on Friday as the afternoon session of their Inter-Korean summit got under way.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in shovelled soil on the roots of the tree and unveiled a stone marker which read, “Planting peace and prosperity” above the leaders’ names and official titles.

The pine tree dates to 1953, the year the Korean War ended in an armistice. The soil and water were brought from the Koreas’ mountains and rivers.

The leaders then talked while walking unaccompanied on a nearby bridge before they are expected to resume the afternoon session of their summit at Panmunjom.

Kim at one point was seen waving away photographers as he and Moon continued their talks sitting on chairs placed at the bridge.

The leaders of the two Koreas held a landmark summit Friday after a highly symbolic handshake over the Military Demarcation Line that divides their countries, with the North’s Kim Jong Un declaring they were at the “threshold of a new history”.

Kim said he was “filled with emotion” after stepping over the concrete blocks, making him the first North Korean leader to set foot in the South since the Korean War ended in an armistice 65 years ago.

At Kim’s impromptu invitation the two men briefly crossed hand-in-hand into the North before walking to the Peace House building on the southern side of the truce village of Panmunjom for the summit -- only the third of its kind since hostilities ceased in 1953.

“I came here determined to send a starting signal at the threshold of a new history,” said Kim, whose nuclear-armed regime is accused of widespread human rights abuses.

With the North’s atomic arsenal high on the agenda, South Korean President Moon Jae-in responded that he hoped they would reach “a bold agreement so that we may give a big gift to the whole Korean people and the people who want peace”.

Kim was flanked by his sister and close adviser Kim Yo Jong and the North’s head of inter-Korean relations, while Moon was accompanied by his spy chief and chief of staff.

It is the highest-level encounter yet in a whirlwind of nuclear diplomacy, and intended to pave the way for a much-anticipated encounter between Kim and US President Donald Trump.

The North’s official KCNA news agency said that Kim will “open-heartedly discuss... all the issues arising in improving inter-Korean relations and achieving peace, prosperity and reunification of the Korean peninsula”.

First Published: Apr 27, 2018 14:18 IST