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At summit, Kim Jong Un pledges to not repeat ‘unfortunate history’

Kim Jong Un became the first North Korean leader to set foot in South Korea since the Korean War 65 years ago. The official talks focused heavily on North Korea's nuclear weapons program. President Moon Jae-in said that he and Kim shared the goal of ridding “the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons through complete denuclearization." Judy Woodruff reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    North meets South. Leaders of the two Koreas hold a dramatic summit. Their meeting along the heavily fortified border marked a day of diplomacy after months of war talk.

    It was quite literally a historic step. Kim Jong-un became the first North Korean leader to set foot in South Korea since the Korean War 65 years ago. He greeted President Moon Jae-in with a long handshake before inviting him to step onto North Korean soil.

    The official talks at the Peace House in Panmunjom focused heavily on North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Afterward, President Moon offered hopeful words, but few specifics.

  • Moon Jae-in (through translator):

    Today, Chairman Kim Jong-un and I confirmed that our shared goal is to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons through complete denuclearization.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The two Koreas have made similar statements in the past, but Kim said this time must be different.

  • Kim Jong-un (through translator):

    Today, we will make sure that the agreement we have reached, which the people of the Korean Peninsula and the world are watching, doesn't repeat the unfortunate history of unfulfilled promises.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    All of this comes after the North carried out a series of nuclear and missile tests, and after bellicose exchanges between Kim and President Trump raised war jitters.

    In January, the North Korea leader unexpectedly signaled that he was open to dialogue. This month, he announced Pyongyang will shut down its nuclear test site and suspend nuclear and missile testing. Today, a newfound friendliness was on full display, punctuated by easy smiles, frequent handshakes and even laughter.

    The leaders planted a tree near the demarcation line, using soil and water from both countries.

  • Kim Jong-un (through translator):

    Standing face-to-face, I heartwarmingly realize that North and South Korea are not just neighbors that live separately, but rather a family.

    We, who live so close by, are not enemies that must fight against each other, but are more families that share the same bloodline who must unite.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Kim and Moon concluded by signing a joint agreement and calling for a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War.

    The Koreas have held two previous summits, the last one in 2007, when Kim Jong-un's father, Kim Jong Il, and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun met in Pyongyang. After today's meeting, people in Seoul sounded hopeful, but cautious.

  • Woman (through translator):

    I am optimistic about the result of the summit and wish for this to bring the war to an end.

  • Man (through translator):

    Seeing the two leaders meet, it feels as if the unification already took place. But I am also worried, and suspect that we may be deceived by North Korea.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The Koreas summit was welcomed by China and Russia. In Tokyo, Japanese Minister Shinzo Abe talked hopefully, while calling again for answers about the fate of Japanese abducted by North Korea decades ago. President Trump plans his own meeting with Kim, in late may or early June, and he sounded upbeat today.

  • President Donald Trump:

    I don't think he's playing. And it's never gone like this. It's never gone this far. I don't think it's ever had this enthusiasm for them wanting to make a deal. We're not going to be played, OK? We're going to hopefully make a deal, but, if we don't, that's fine.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    It remains unclear if Kim is willing to give up his nuclear program entirely. But in Brussels today, newly sworn-in U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted that has to be the final result.

  • Mike Pompeo:

    We're committed to permanent, verifiable, irreversible dismantling of North Korea's weapons of mass destruction programs without delay. Until then, the global maximum pressure campaign will continue.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Kim Jong-un is now back in North Korea, with the promise that President Moon will visit him in Pyongyang this fall.

    We will examine just how significant today's summit was after the news summary.

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