Reunification slogans greet Moon in North Korea

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un wave during a car parade in Pyongyang, North Korea, on September 18, 2018. Reuters

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea was greeted by throngs of North Koreans shouting “Reunification of the fatherland!” as he arrived in the North on Tuesday on a high-stakes mission to persuade its leader, Kim Jong-un, to commit to start dismantling his nuclear weapons programme.

Moon is holding his third summit with Kim, a three-day visit during which the two will discuss improving inter-Korean ties and easing tensions along their countries’ border, the most militarized in the world. It was Moon’s first visit to Pyongyang as South Korea’s leader and it comes after the two met on the border in April and May.

The big question hovering over the talks is whether Kim will agree to take steps to convince Washington that he is willing to denuclearise.

Kim expressed optimism on Tuesday about the future of the negotiations, thanking Moon for helping bring about his June summit meeting with President Donald Trump in Singapore.

“Thanks to that meeting, the situation around the Korean Peninsula has stabilised and we can now expect more progress,” Kim said at the start of a two-hour meeting with Moon at the headquarters of the ruling Workers’ Party, according to pool reports from South Korean journalists in Pyongyang, the North’s capital.

Kim greeted Moon on Tuesday morning at the Pyongyang airport, kicking off a spectacle that stressed the ethnic affinity of the two Koreas.

When Moon stepped off his plane, a smiling Kim was waiting on the tarmac with a military honour guard and a large crowd of Pyongyang citizens mobilised for his arrival. After the two leaders hugged each other and moved to their cars, the crowd fervently chanted “Hurrah!” and “Peace and prosperity!” while waving plastic flowers and “Korea-is-one” flags that showed an undivided Korean Peninsula.

As the motorcade carrying Moon and Kim to a state guesthouse wove through Pyongyang, huge crowds, mostly women clad in bright flowing dresses, lined the boulevard, waving pink flowers and chanting for reunification.

Tuesday’s crowds were clearly mobilised to demonstrate the North Koreans’ adoration for Kim and their support for his uriminzokkiri, or “among our nation,” policy of stressing inter-Korean cooperation while the North engages in a nuclear standoff with the United States.

Moon and Kim were scheduled to announce the results of their meetings Wednesday.

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Reunification slogans greet Moon in North Korea

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