NATIONAL

S. Korea to mark summit anniversary, with or without North

By AFP
  • Published : Apr 22, 2019 - 19:44
  • Updated : Apr 22, 2019 - 19:44

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korea will this week celebrate the first anniversary of a landmark summit between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un -- but Pyongyang may not take part, Seoul said Monday.

The pair held their first meeting on April 27 last year in the Demilitarized Zone dividing the peninsula amid a rapid diplomatic thaw, paving the way for a historic summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June.

(Yonhap)

But one year later, little progress has been made on North Korea‘s denuclearisation, with Pyongyang and Washington deadlocked since a second summit between Trump and Kim in Hanoi in February broke down without a deal.

Moon, who brokered the first meeting between the two mercurial leaders, has tried to salvage the diplomacy although the North has remained largely unresponsive.

Since Hanoi, the North has not attended any of the eight regular weekly meetings of the heads of their joint liaison office in Kaesong, and has not taken part in other joint projects, such as excavations in the DMZ.

Seoul will hold a ceremony on Saturday at Panmunjom -- where Moon and Kim exchanged warm smiles and brotherly hugs -- the unification ministry said, but whether Pyongyang would attend remained unclear.

“Our side notified (the North) about the April 27 anniversary ceremony” on Monday, the ministry said without giving further detail.

Moon and Kim met three times last year -- including a second impromptu encounter after Trump threatened to cancel the Singapore summit just weeks before it was due.

But exchanges between Seoul and Pyongyang have significantly decreased since the failure to reach agreement in Hanoi.

Kim slammed the South in a speech to his country’s rubber stamp legislature earlier this month, saying it should not “pose as a meddlesome ‘mediator’ and ‘facilitator’” between the US and the North.