SEOUL (Reuters): North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he wanted to produce a “big outcome” as he began three days of summit talks on Tuesday with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in aimed at rekindling stalled nuclear diplomacy.
The two leaders began official talks on Tuesday afternoon, after parading down the streets of Pyongyang in Kim’s black Mercedes limousine to loud cheers from nearly 100,000 North Koreans who waved flowers and chanted “Unification! Motherland!”
Earlier, Kim greeted Moon with hugs and handshakes as the South Korean leader landed in the North’s capital with a mission to revive momentum in faltering talks between Washington and Pyongyang over denuclearisation and advance the prospect of formally ending the Korean War.
As Kim escorted Moon to the Paekhwawon State Guest House, where the South Korean leader will stay during his three-day visit, Kim said he wanted to produce a “bigger outcome at a faster pace” than the two leaders have achieved so far.
“You Mr. President are travelling all around the world, but our country is humble compared with developed nations,” Kim told Moon. “I’ve been waiting and waiting for today. The level of the accommodation and schedule we provide may be low, but it’s our best sincerity and heart.”
Moon said it was “time to bear fruit” and thanked Kim for his hospitality, which included a massive welcome ceremony at Pyongyang International Airport featuring a large, goose-stepping honour guard and a military band.
During their motor parade through Pyongyang’s landmark Ryomyong Street, a new residential district launched last year under Kim’s initiative to modernise the city, Kim and Moon briefly stepped out of the vehicle to greet and take flowers from members of the crowd.
The two leaders were scheduled to attend a musical performance and have dinner at Mokrankwan, a top banquet hall where Kim hosted massive celebrations last year to congratulate scientists and officials for tests on long-range missile capable of reaching the United States.
This week’s summit, the third between Moon and Kim, will be a litmus test for another meeting Kim has recently proposed to U.S. President Donald Trump.
Trump has asked Moon to be “chief negotiator” between himself and Kim, according to Moon’s aides, after Trump cancelled a trip to Pyongyang by his secretary of state last month.
Washington wants to see concrete action toward denuclearisation by North Korea before agreeing to a key goal of Pyongyang - declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean War.
“If North Korea-U.S. dialogue is restarted after this visit, it would have much significance in itself,” Moon said before his departure.