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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to take additional steps for denuclearization, in an apparent gesture to restart its stalled talks with the United States, reported Yonhap News Agency (South Korea).
The agreement came in a historic summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held at the state guesthouse Paekhwawon in Pyongyang.
"The North has agreed to permanently shut down its Dongchang-ri missile engine testing facility and missile launch pad under the participation of experts from related countries," Moon said in a joint press conference with Kim after the summit, broadcast live in Seoul.
The North also agreed to take additional steps, such as the permanent shutdown of the Yongbyon nuclear facility, depending on the United States' corresponding measures, he added.
"The South and the North discussed denuclearization steps for the first time," Moon said.
Kim said he and Moon agreed to remove all nuclear weapons and threats from the Korean Peninsula.
"The September declaration will open a higher level for the improvement in relations (between the South and the North) ... and bring closer the era of peace and prosperity," Kim said of his agreement signed with Moon after their two-day talks in Pyongyang.
The joint declaration, later released by Seoul's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, showed the North's agreement on denuclearization steps.
"The North expressed its willingness to continue taking additional steps, such as the permanent shutdown of the Yongbyon nuclear facility, should the United States take corresponding measures under the spirit of the June 12 North Korea-U.S. joint statement," it said, referring to the agreement reached by U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim in their bilateral summit held in Singapore.
Pyongyang is said to be demanding early rewards for denuclearization steps it has taken so far, while Washington continues to stress the importance of maximum pressure and sanctions against the North until the communist state fully denuclearizes.
The North's offer to take additional denuclearization steps despite any signs of reward from the U.S. is apparently aimed at restarting its denuclearization talks with the U.S.
The talks have stalled after U.S. President Donald Trump called off a scheduled North Korea trip by his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, citing what he called a lack of progress in the North's denuclearization process.
Even before the start of his three-day trip to Pyongyang on Tuesday, the South Korean president said the main objective of his trip was to restart the U.S.-North Korea dialogue.
Moon insisted the North's agreement also marked the first time for the Koreas to discuss detailed steps to denuclearization.
"I hope the talks between the North and the U.S. quickly resume," he told the joint press conference.
Possibly signaling a breakthrough, Trump welcomed the outcome of the inter-Korean summit in a Twitter message.
"Kim Jong Un has agreed to allow Nuclear inspections, subject to final negotiations, and to permanently dismantle a test site and launch pad in the presence of international experts," he wrote.
It was not clear what Trump meant by nuclear inspections.
The U.S. is said to have demanded a list of North Korea's nuclear arsenal and nuclear inspections.
North Korea has reportedly dismissed the U.S. demand, an apparent source of the ongoing impasse in the U.S.-North Korea denuclearization talks.
Still, Moon's top security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, insisted the outcome of the latest inter-Korean summit will lead to a resumption of U.S.-North Korea talks.
"Based on the outcome of the summit this time, I expect the North-U.S. negotiations to somewhat speed up, and we also hope a North Korea-U.S. summit will be held at an early date," he told reporters in Pyongyang.
Moon is set to visit the United States next week for a bilateral summit with the U.S president.
There, he will likely brief Trump on the outcome of his talks with the North Korean leader, and also seek to broker a resumption of the U.S.-North Korea denuclearization talks.
The agreement signed by the leaders of the two Koreas in Pyongyang also called for steps to further improve inter-Korean ties.
The sides have agreed to begin the work to reconnect their severed railways and roads across the heavily fortified border before the year's end.
Also, the countries will reopen their joint industrial park in the North's border town of Kaesong and tourism programs to the North's Mount Kumgang as soon as "conditions are met," the agreement said.
The Kaesong complex was shut down in early 2016 as part of Seoul's unilateral sanctions against the North. Its reopening, however, may violate international sanctions imposed on the communist state.
To further promote reconciliation, the divided Koreas have agreed to soon establish a new joint facility for more frequent and freer reunions of families separated since the end of the Korean War.
The two Koreas technically remain at war as the 1950-53 war ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
In a separate agreement signed by their defense chiefs, the Koreas also agreed to a wide range of steps aimed at further reducing military tension on the Korean Peninsula.
Such steps include setting up a 10-kilometer buffer zone along their border where all artillery drills or regiment-level field maneuvers will be prohibited, according to the military agreement.
In their joint declaration, the leaders said the countries have also agreed to quickly launch a joint military committee to review their implementation of such tension-reducing measures and to enable round-the-clock communication to prevent future conflicts.
The two Koreas will continue to jointly take part in international sporting events, including the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games, the leaders said in their Pyongyang declaration.
They will also seek to jointly host the 2032 Summer Olympic Games.
The North Korean leader said he has agreed to visit Seoul in the near future.
Moon said the near future, barring unforeseen conditions, meant before the year's end.
Following their summit and joint press conference, Moon and Kim continued their dialogue over lunch at Pyongyang's famous cold noodle restaurant, Okryukwan, according to officials in Seoul.
Moon is scheduled to return home Thursday after taking a joint excursion with Kim to North Korea's Mount Paekdu.
The two leaders will embark on the trip early Thursday. Other details of the trip have yet to be decided, according to Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesman for the South Korean president.
Mount Paekdu is the tallest mountain in the whole of Korea and sits at the northern tip of the peninsula on North Korea's border with China.
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