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Moon says 3 nations declared peace at DMZ

July 03,2019
이미지뷰
President Moon Jae-in, center left, is flanked by Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, center right, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, Pak Un Jong, chairperson of the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission, and his ministers ahead of a cabinet meeting at the Blue House on Tuesday. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]
The meeting of the leaders of the two Koreas and the United States in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) last weekend was a de facto declaration of the end of the Korean War, President Moon Jae-in said Tuesday.

“On Sunday, the Korean people and the world witnessed the historic moment in Panmunjom,” Moon said Tuesday as he hosted a cabinet meeting at the Blue House. “Although there was no signature on a document between the two Koreas and between the North and the United States, we can say that they have declared with their actions that hostile relations have ended and a new era of peace has begun.”

Moon, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump came together in Panmunjom, a truce village in the Joint Security Area (JSA) inside the demilitarized zone on Sunday. After that first-ever encounter, Kim and Trump sat down for nearly an hour and agreed to resume stalled denuclearization negotiations.

Moon suggested the meeting was a symbolic declaration of the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, which came to a cease-fire with an armistice agreement signed by U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William Harrison Jr., representing the United Nations Command, and North Korean Gen. Nam Il, representing the Korean People’s Army and the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army.

Technically the two Koreas remain at war.

During their first summit in Panmunjom in April last year, Moon and Kim agreed that the two countries would commit to some kind of denuclearization process but also talks to bring a formal end to the war. They also agreed later that year to eventually convert the armistice agreement into a peace treaty to officially end the war. An inter-Korean military agreement was signed between defense ministers of the two governments on Sept. 19 last year during the third Moon-Kim summit in Pyongyang.

In his opening remarks for the cabinet meeting, Moon said the leaders of North Korea and the United States joined hands at the military demarcation line for the first time in 66 years since the 1953 truce.

“The U.S. president, without any special security measures, crossed the line and stepped on North Korean soil and was escorted by the North Korean leader,” he said. “If they remember this in future North-U.S. dialogue, there will be a great outcome.”

Moon said the latest development was possible because the three leaders trust each other and military tensions were reduced at the border. “As I have always said, I want to stress that improving inter-Korean relations and progress in the North-U.S. dialogue are part of a virtuous circle.

“Along with President Trump, I visited a frontline guard post just 25 meters [82 feet] away from the military demarcation line,” Moon said. “It is the first time that the presidents of the two countries visited the DMZ together.”

Moon stressed that the leaders didn’t wear military uniforms or bullet-proof vests, but wore suits and ties. He said a U.S. commander at the border briefed Trump about the eased tensions since the 2018 inter-Korean military agreement.

“I told President Trump that half of the country’s populations lives in Seoul and the capital region, located only 40 kilometers [25 miles] from the border,” Moon said. “I also told him that over 100,000 American citizens are living in Seoul alone.”

Moon said he explained to Trump the positive effects the Kaesong Industrial Complex brought to the economies of the two Koreas and South Korea’s national security, fueling speculation that economic cooperation between the two Koreas would soon resume.

In a speech on March 1, Moon said he would consult with the United States about restarting the Kaesong Industrial Complex and tours to Mount Kumgang in North Korea.

Moon’s predecessor, President Park Geun-hye, shut the industrial complex in 2016 in response a North Korean missile test. After Moon took office, an inter-Korean liaison office was opened in Kaesong in 2018, but the factories remain shut.

Tours to Mount Kumgang were stopped in 2008 by the Lee Myung-bak administration after a South Korean tourist was shot dead.

Moon has tirelessly promoted inter-Korean economic cooperation. During a phone conversation with Trump on Feb. 19, Moon asked the U.S. president to ease sanctions on the North, stressing that the South was ready to pursue road and railroad projects.

In a media interview last month, Moon said, “Inter-Korean economic cooperation projects - such as the resumption of operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex - are appealing to both Koreas and the United States as well in that they could help reduce the burden of the international community, including the United States, and present a look ahead to the kind of bright future that could greet the North should it complete denuclearization.

“This is why I proposed to President Trump that he actively utilize inter-Korean economic cooperation as one of the corresponding measures to North Korea’s substantive denuclearization steps,” he continued.

On Tuesday, Moon also praised Trump’s unconventional invitation to Kim to meet in the DMZ last Sunday and Kim’s brave response, calling them an “outcome of astounding imagination” and “unconventional diplomacy.”

Moon urged his ministers to use imagination in politics and foreign affairs, as well as economic policies. “To resolve a significant issue, we need out-of-the-ordinary imagination,” Moon said. “We need to use imagination endlessly for complete denuclearization and permanent establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]