South Korea Expects Trump, Kim Talks to Make Progress on Nukes

(Bloomberg) -- South Korea President Moon Jae-in said he expected a “big step” toward denuclearization of the peninsula during a unprecedented summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“Both sides are preparing for this with commitment, and I look forward to a big step being taken during the U.S.-North Korea meeting,” Moon said in Seoul Wednesday. Moon was speaking at a gathering to discuss the agenda of his own summit with Kim planned for April 27.

South Korea Expects Trump, Kim Talks to Make Progress on Nukes

Moon’s remarks came a day after Trump said he expected to meet with Kim in May or early June and that he hoped to reach a deal to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The South Korean leader said he understood that the two countries were discussing the time, place and agenda for the summit and that Seoul would review how to share responsibilities with the U.S.

At a meeting of the Workers’ Party on Monday, Kim made a rare comment on the prospect of talks with the U.S., according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

“I think there will be great respect paid by both parties and hopefully we’ll be able to make a deal on the de-nuking of North Korea,” Trump said. “They’ve said so, we’ve said so, hopefully it’ll be a relationship that’s much different than it’s been for many, many years.”

Kim-Moon Summit

Moon’s meeting with Kim will be the third inter-Korean summit since the Korean War divided the peninsula. Unlike the two previous gatherings when the South Korean leader visited the north, Kim is planning to cross the border this time and become the regime’s first supreme leader to set foot in the south.

The meeting is taking place at the truce village of Panmunjom, where the armistice agreement was signed in 1953. For South Korea, removing nuclear weapons from the peninsula and striking a deal for “eternal” peace “is what everyone has dreamed of, but hasn’t accomplished yet,” Moon said.

“We’re at the starting line of a long journey toward peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula,” Moon said. “We’re about to initiate a historic major shift that will enable not only complete denuclearization and eternal peace on the Korean peninsula but also sustainable development of the two Koreas.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.