History has been made on the Korean peninsula today, as South Korean President Moon Jae-In and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un shook hands at the Demilitarized Zone between the two countries and pledged to work to denuclearize the peninsula and to declare the official end to the Korean War. Today’s historic summit marks the first time a North Korean leader has ever set foot inside South Korea. During the meeting, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said “I came here to put an end to the history of confrontation.” The North and South Korean leaders pledged to pursue talks with the United States aimed at negotiating a formal peace treaty to replace the uneasy 1953 armistice. For more we speak with Ann Wright, retired U.S. Army Colonel and former State Department diplomat. She is a member of Women Cross DMZ, a group of international peacemakers who have been calling for an end to the Korean War.
MOON JAE-IN: Kim Jong-un and I declared together that there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula and a new age of peace has begun.
AMY GOODMAN: Those were the words of South Korean President Moon Jae-in as he held a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. After shaking hands at the demilitarized zone between the two countries, the two leaders pledged to work to denuclearize the Peninsula and to declare the official end to the Korean War. Today’s historic summit marks the first time a North Korean leader has ever set foot inside South Korea. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un wrote in a guest book “a new history starts now. An age of peace, from the starting point of history.” Kim and his South Korean counterpart pledged to pursue talks with the United States aimed at negotiating a formal peace treaty to replace the uneasy truce that was brokered after the 1950-1953 Korean War. This is North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaking today.
KIM JONG-UN: We will make efforts to create good results by communicating closely in order to make sure our agreement signed today before the entire world will not end as just a beginning like previous agreements before today.
Interviewer: Today’s breakthrough comes amidst a series of diplomatic developments regarding North Korea and its nuclear program. Last month, Kim Jong-un traveled to Beijing by armored train to meet with the president of China, Xi Jinping, in Kim’s first foreign trip since taking office in 2011. Kim is also slated to meet soon with President Trump, in what would be the first-ever meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. Last week, North Korea announced it would stop testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and would close a site where at least six prior nuclear tests were held. This is South Korean President Moon Jae-In speaking today.
MOON JAE-IN: It is very significant that North Korea took a measure of freezing nuclear first. It will be a valuable beginning for the complete denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. I clearly declare that the South and North will closely cooperate for the complete denuclearization.
Interviewer: This morning, after President Trump tweeted against James Comey once again, he then tweeted, ”KOREAN WAR TO END! The United States, and all of its GREAT people, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!” We go right now to Hawaii, where we are joined by retired U.S. Army colonel, former State Department diplomat, Ann Wright. She is a member of Women Cross DMZ, a group of international peacemakers who have been calling for an end to the Korean War. Ann Wright, talk about your response to what has just taken place on the Korean Peninsula. Did you ever think you would see this day?
ANN WRIGHT: Holy smoke, no. This is just really remarkable. The last 12 hours have just stunned everyone, of the incredible, incredible work that has been done by the South Korean government with the North Korean government. And for them to have been able to come out with a communiqué, an agreement that is stunning, that has—I mean, I couldn’t have written it any better. All of the wants that we of the world who want peace for the Korean Peninsula, who could have written everything down—we couldn’t have added anything more to what they have come up with. It is really a beautiful, beautiful agreement, worked very hard by both governments. And I certainly hope the United States government will agree with all parts of it and that, indeed, the people of Korea will finally have peace on their Peninsula.
Interview: As you mentioned, this really has been pushed forward by the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in. He campaigned on this and he has pushed very hard for this meeting. What is actually in the document that they signed, from the economy to denuclearization?
ANN WRIGHT: Indeed, it is just—it’s breathtaking, the amount of things that are in this communiqué. Everything from denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, to a peace treaty, to no more war on the Korean Peninsula. To establish a peace regime. To have family reunification starting on August 15th. To connect railroads and roads. To cease all hostile acts on land, air, and sea. To transform the DMZ into a peace zone. To have a maritime peace zone in the western, northern limit of the area. To hold military talks in May. That President Moon will go to North Korea in the fall. And to say there will be disarmament in a phased manner as tensions are alleviated. It is a really beautiful, beautiful document that will require a lot of work, that’s for sure, and a lot of commitment to make sure that this doesn’t get derailed in any way, but it is really a very comprehensive statement of peace for the Korean Peninsula.
Interviewer Now, you are a retired U.S. Army colonel. You quit the State Department over your opposition to the war in Afghanistan. You are a fierce critic of President Trump. But do you believe that President Trump deserves credit for some of what has taken place today?
ANN WRIGHT: Absolutely. Ninety-nine percent of the things that President Trump is doing, I don’t agree with, but even when he was running for office, when he said “I will talk to people. I will talk to Kim Jong-un,” it was like, “Well, that’s a very good statement.” And indeed, he has followed through, saying that he will. And I certainly hope that they do have a very good summit in late May or in June. It is very important that the United States follow through with what the South Korean government and the North Korean government have done. And I certainly wish President Trump goodwill for this, and I wish him goodwill if he would approach other aspects of our globe for peace, for the better environment, for keeping our planet safe for everyone. But yes, he deserves a little bit of credit for this, and I’ll give it to him.