Kim Jong Un Will Visit Seoul In 'Near Future,' Vows To Dismantle Missile Site

Experts remain skeptical of the North Korean leader's pledges to denuclearize, however.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Wednesday that he planned to visit Seoul, the South Korean capital, in the “near future,” a dramatic diplomatic step that would be a first for Kim.

Kim made the announcement during a three-day summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Pyongyang that began Tuesday, the third such meeting this year. The pair met to discuss ongoing efforts to rid the peninsula of nuclear weapons, improve diplomatic relations and formally end the Korean War.

They signed a joint declaration on Wednesday, local time, that Moon hailed as a new era for the two nations, including pledges by the North to shut down a missile testing facility and launchpad and also a promise to permanently dismantle its main nuclear complex if the United States took “corresponding measures.” But experts said the document only contained vague promises that would do little to curb the North’s nuclear program.

The two countries also said they hoped to submit a joint bid for the 2032 Summer Olympics and said they would work to connect cross-border railways and roads.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said they had discussed steps to rid the peninsula of
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said they had discussed steps to rid the peninsula of nuclear weapons, but experts remain skeptical.

“The era of no war has started,” the South Korean leader said during the press briefing. Kim echoed those sentiments, saying that he had “made a firm commitment to exert active efforts to make the Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons and nuclear threat and turn it into a land of peace,” according to The New York Times.

During Wednesday’s news conference, Kim did not make any specific commitments to denuclearize his country, a pledge long sought by the United States. The leaders emphasized that they understood “practical progress” was needed to move forward, but many North Korea policy experts expressed doubt about Kim’s intentions.

Kim sent a letter to the White House asking to meet with President Donald Trump for a second summit to follow up on their first highly publicized meeting in Singapore in June.

Moon is expected to speak with Trump after this week’s event, and Trump will then decide if he’ll accept Kim’s invitation. The president has expressed frustration with Pyongyang in recent weeks, and he canceled a visit to the North by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in August amid stalled negotiations.

Trump said late Tuesday that news from this week’s summit was “very exciting,” although analysts said he had misconstrued Kim’s pledges.