Dream come true for Moon as Korean leaders make mountain pilgrimage

Dream come true for Moon as Korean leaders make mountain pilgrimage

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, first lady Kim Jung-sook, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju pose for beside the Heaven Lake of Mount Paektu, North Korea, Sept. 20.

Mr Moon proposed the compromise at a press briefing in Seoul after a three-day visit to North Korea.

North Korea will allow experts from "concerned countries" to watch the closure of its missile engine testing site and launch pad at Tongchang-ri, Moon said at a joint news conference with Kim after their meeting in the North Korean capital.

Moon also said he hopes that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit North Korea soon for nuclear talks.

Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in flew separately to an airport near Mount Paektu on Thursday morning where they then met up and drove to the mountain.

Moon said he will carry a private message from Kim for Trump when he meets the USA president in NY next week at a United Nations meeting.

Kim is also eager to restart talks and hopes to have a second summit with Trump, President Moon said Thursday.

Moon, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and their wives attended the performance of "The Glorious Country" at Pyongyang's May Day Stadium on Wednesday night where they observed thousands of performers working in precise unison.

"We absolutely can not let this hard to come by opportunity for peace slip away once again", the Chinese government's top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, said in a statement.

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The volcano topped with a deep crater lake is at the heart of North Korea's foundation mythology and used to legitimize the Kim family's dynastic rule. Before this year, two South Korean presidents had visited Pyongyang, hosted by the late Kim Jong Il in 2000 and 2007.

The aim, as South Korean National Security Council Director Chung Eui-yong put it, is to work with the worldwide community to "provide North Korea with all the support and encouragement to make the right choices for itself".

"Given how Kim recently suggested a specific timetable for denuclearization, a more concrete agreement than one in Singapore is expected to come out in the next summit".

Moon also spoke directly to the North Korean public, describing a peaceful future to an audience of some 150,000 people. He again promised "to facilitate dialogue between North Korea and the United States".

Speaking to the media Wednesday after a brief signing ceremony, Kim and Moon vowed to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula once and for all, something they first committed to at their April summit.

Kim pledged to work toward the "complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula" during two meetings with Moon and his encounter with Trump, but follow-up negotiations on how to implement the vague commitments have since faltered.

The joint statement from the summit stipulates his commitment to a "verifiable, irreversible dismantlement" of the nuclear programs, and ending the war would be a first US reciprocal step, Moon said.

On the sidelines of the summit, the defense ministers of the two Koreas signed a military agreement that centers on creating a buffer zone to prevent cross-border hostilities. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from SC, who tweeted that he was concerned the visit would undermine efforts by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley to impose "maximum pressure" on the North.

And progress on freezing operations at Nyongbyon - which is probably not North Korea's only nuclear production site - remains contingent on the USA making concessions of its own, steps that could be politically unpalatable for many in Washington, including among hawks in Trump's own administration and in Congress.

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