Korean leaders meet after Trump threat on summit

TOPSHOT - This picture taken on May 26, 2018 and released by the Blue House via Dong-A Ilbo shows South Korea's President Moon Jae-in (R) hugging North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un after their second summit at the north side of the truce village of Panmunjo

North and South Korea’s leaders held surprise talks on Saturday after President Donald Trump cast an uncertain pall over the turbulent Korean peninsula by cancelling a historic summit with Pyongyang only to suggest it might still go ahead.

Photos released by South Korea showed President Moon Jae-in shaking hands with his counterpart Kim Jong Un on the North Korean side of the Demilitarised Zone separating the two nations.

South Korea’s presidential Blue House said the two leaders held talks for two hours on Saturday afternoon in the same Panmunjom truce village where they had met last month, making a declaration vowing to improve ties.

“They exchanged views and discussed ways to implement the Panmunjom Declaration and to ensure a successful US-North Korea summit,” the Blue House said in a statement, adding Moon would make a personal statement on Sunday morning.

On Thursday, Trump rattled the region by cancelling his meeting with Kim which had been due to take place in Singapore on June 12 citing “open hostility” from Pyongyang.

But within 24 hours he reversed course saying it could still go ahead after productive talks were held with North Korean officials.

 The original decision to abandon the historic summit blindsided South Korea which had been brokering a remarkable detente between Washington and Pyongyang after months of Kim and Trump trading insults and threats of war.

Pictures released by the Blue House showed Moon also shaking hands with Kim’s sister Kim Yo Jong, who has played a major public role in recent talks with the South, including leading a delegation across the border during February’s Winter Olympics.

The spy chiefs from both sides were at the meeting according to the photos.

The meeting between Moon and Kim took place in a grand building on the North Korean side of Panmunjom, a surreal and heavily fortified village that lies between the two countries and marks the spot where the armistice ending the Korean War in 1953 was signed.

Only last month the two leaders met in the same village, with Kim famously inviting Moon to step briefly into the North before they both held talks in a building on the South’s side.

Saturday’s meeting is only the fourth time serving leaders of the two Koreas, who remain technically at war, have ever met.

Unlike last month’s summit, which was held in front of live TV cameras, Saturday’s meeting took place in utmost secrecy, with reporters only being told after the face to face had taken place.

 The meeting is the latest remarkable chapter in a roller coaster few months on the Korean peninsula.

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Korean leaders meet after Trump threat on summit

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