South Korean leader in Pyongyang to reboot nuclear talks


If North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was searching for the ideal propaganda set piece, something created to show his people that he's a strong leader pushing inexorably for the long-delayed, long-promised prosperity they deserve, then visiting South Korean President Moon Jae-in might be providing him with a unique opportunity during their summit this week.

The two leaders greeted each other with a hug and inspected the guards of honor before leaving together for the Baekhwawon State Guest House in a black sedan.

While signaling his willingness to talk with Washington, Kim's strategy has been to try to elbow the U.S. away from Seoul so that the two Koreas can take the lead in deciding how to bring peace and stability to their peninsula.

The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said that the Pyongyang summit aims to implement the Panmunjom Declaration issued after the first inter-Korean summit in April.

Moon's plane left a military airport near Seoul for Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, on Tuesday morning. He argues that better ties with North Korea will help South Koreans, and the region, by settling the decades-long standoff over the North's pursuit of a nuclear arsenal created to target the US mainland.

News of the upcoming travel to Pyongyang did little to buoy Moon's sagging approval.

Moon's conservative predecessors, Park Geun-hye and Lee Myung-bak, faced harsh criticism from liberals that their hard-line stances only led North Korea to carry out more weapons tests and attacks such as two in 2010 that killed 50 South Koreans.

Representatives of government-run companies and business leaders, including Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-Yong and Hyundai Group chairwoman and CEO Hyun Jeong-eun, also met with Vice-Premier of the Cabinet Ri Ryong Nam and other North Korean officials.

The North's unique brand of choreographed mass adulation was on full display as hundreds of people waved North Korean flags and another depicting an undivided peninsula - while the South's own emblem was only visible on Moon's Boeing 747 aircraft.

North Korea maintains that it has developed its nuclear weapons to the point that it can now defend itself against a potential U.S. attack, and can now shift its focus to economic development and improved ties with the South.

Kim welcomed his visitor at Pyongyang's global airport - where he had supervised missile launches a year ago as tensions mounted - the two leaders of the divided Korean Peninsula embracing after Moon walked down the steps of his aircraft.

The welcoming ceremony was broadcast live by the Pyeongyang Press Corps, a group composed of South Korean reporters and photographers, underlining a recent thaw in inter-Korean relations.

"President Moon must head to Pyongyang with the resolve that the first, second, third agenda of this summit is denuclearization".

"(My) North Korea trip would have a great meaning if it could lead to the resumption of North Korea-U.S. dialogue", Moon was quoted as saying before heading to Pyongyang earlier in the day.

The conflict ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving USA -led United Nations forces including South Korea technically still at war with the North.

Moon's office has said this week's summit talks will focus on how to achieve denuclearization, lower a military standoff between the Koreas and promote their ties.

Nuclear diplomacy between the U.S. and North Korea has stalled and questions have been raised about how serious Mr Kim is after his vague commitments to denuclearise. The South Korean President will end his visit on September 20.

Given the tight worldwide sanctions on North Korea, any new economic co-operation between North and South will depend on an easing of sanctions on the North. Long has spent about 150 days in North Carolina since becoming FEMA administrator in June 2017, the Journal reports, and he continued his government-subsidized commute after DHS lawyers warned him it was illegal a year ago, prompting the inspector general's office to put him under surveillance.