Peace activists hold a banner showing South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, before the start of their historic summit. (Ed Jones / AFP / Getty Images)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in will welcome Kim Jong One Friday to a summit that, hopes Moon, will lay the groundwork for a meeting between the North Korean leader and President Trump and that will eliminate the cloud of another war in the peninsula. GOYANG, South Korea –
"I think the summit will be considered successful if we can clearly express North Korea's clear intention to denuclearize itself," Im Jong-seok, Moon's chief of staff and chief of the summit The preparation committee, told reporters here in Goyang, near the summit site, on Thursday.
Trump has tweeted that he is making "great progress" towards denuclearization and that he is eager to meet Kim. That meeting has not yet been scheduled, but it is likely to happen in late May or early June in a place yet to be decided.
But analysts are much more skeptical about getting the kind of agreement that would lead Kim to give up his nuclear weapons program.
"Expectations for these summits are very inflated, which is the last thing you want to happen," said Victor Cha, chairman of the Korea department at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington and one of the negotiators of the agreement. denuclearization of 2005.
The fact that the summit is happening at all represents a surprising turn of events after a 2017 that was marked by important advances in nuclear and missile programs in North Korea. This sparked a war of words between Kim and Trump that many feared could turn into real military action.
But Trump's "maximum pressure" policy of harsh sanctions and tougher words, combined with Kim's nuclear power power, has created an environment for talks in which both the United States and North Korea believe they have the pan by the handle.
Moon, who took office a year ago by engaging with North Korea, acknowledged the opportunity for diplomacy and established the process that led to the ongoing summit at the Winter Olympics that South Korea organized in February.
The main issues on the agenda of the Friday summit are the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of a permanent peace, I told Im at the press conference on Thursday.
Officials of the Moon and Trump administrations have said that North Korea has expressed its willingness to discuss denuclearization, although traditionally they have had very different definitions of the word.
While successive US administrations have insisted that Pyongyang abandon its nuclear program and allow the process to be verified by outside inspectors, the Kim regime has long said that any process must be mutual and accompanied by the withdrawal of US military from South Korea.
In an announcement made on Saturday that North Korea would not conduct more or missile tests, Kim did not mention the abandonment of its program. He simply pointed to a freeze.
"The devil will be in the details," said Laura Rosenberger, a member of the Marshall Fund of the United States who worked on the policy of North Korea in the Obama White House.
cited the "Day of the Jump" debacle in 2012, when North Korea accepted a moratorium on missile tests, only to launch what it said was a satellite about six weeks later.
"I'm worried about that kind of thing happening again," she said.
But before Moon and Kim reach substantive discussion, there will be ceremonial business to attend.
Approximately at 9:30 a.m. local time, Kim will stop on the north side of the military demarcation line marking the exact place where the Korean peninsula is divided.
The moon will be waiting for it on the south side of the line, which is a concrete curb in this part of the 2.5-mile-wide Demilitarized Zone that keeps the two countries at a greater distance than the rest of the border .
Musicians of the South Korean Army, dressed in traditional Korean costumes, will form an honor guard to welcome Kim and play Arirang, a heartbreaking popular song about the division's pain. All this will be broadcast live, another first.
The two leaders will enter the newly renovated Peace House building on the south side for photos and preliminary discussions.
After having lunch separately, Kim and Moon will plant a pine tree together using a mixture of Monte land. Paekdu in the north and Mt. Find it in the south, splashing it with water from the rivers that cross Seoul and Pyongyang. A stone plaque with the phrase "peace and prosperity planted" will be placed, along with the signatures of Moon and Kim, to commemorate the occasion.
Then, after further talks, they will issue a joint statement that analysts believe has been widely agreed upon before they enter the discussion room where, in a reflection of how much prior planning South Korea has done, they will sit exactly at 2,018 millimeters away. (Or about 79 inches)
You'll follow a dinner, with cold buckwheat noodles from a famous restaurant in Pyongyang, fish from Moon's hometown, and potato rosti the kind Kim could have eaten while living in Switzerland.
This is only the third inter-Korean summit and it is the first that South Korea has organized.