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Two Koreas complete preparations for leaders' summit

All Headlines 17:54 April 26, 2018

GOYANG, South Korea, April 26 (Yonhap) -- South and North Korea wrapped up their preparations for a meeting between their leaders Thursday with one final rehearsal of the historic inter-Korean summit.

The rehearsal of what will be a third inter-Korean summit came one day before South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are set to meet at the joint border village of Panmunjom inside the heavily fortified demilitarized zone.

The final rehearsal was an abbreviated yet complete walk-through of the monumental summit that will mark the first of its kind in more than a decade.

"They tried to check every little detail, such as where other delegates will stand when the two leaders meet," Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesman for the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, said, adding that the final rehearsal involved six of seven South Korean delegates to the summit with two other persons posing as the leaders to check the line of their passage.

The Moon-Kim meeting is set to start at around 9:30 a.m. when the North Korean leader will cross the inter-Korean border on foot, Cheong Wa Dae Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok said earlier.

This file photo taken on April 6, 2018, shows Im Jong-seok (third from L), chief of staff to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and other officials inspecting the footbridge on the South Korean side of the border truce village of Panmunjom in preparations for Moon's upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. On April 26, 2018, one day before the summit, Im said the two leaders will jointly walk the bridge during a friendship event. (Yonhap)

Moon and Kim will jointly inspect a South Korean honor guard before their official talks begin at 10:30 a.m. at the Peace House, a South Korean facility located just south of the border, according to Im.

Friday's meeting will be the first inter-Korean summit to be held in South Korea, also making Kim the first North Korean leader to have stepped on South Korean soil since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. The two previous summits held between the divided Koreas in 2000 and 2007 were both held in Pyongyang.

The final rehearsal for the latest inter-Korean dialogue at the highest level follows two days of equally thorough and careful rehearsals.

On Wednesday, a South Korean summit preparation commission headed by Im staged its own rehearsal. The South Korean organizers were joined by their North Korean counterparts the following day for a second and joint rehearsal.

Preparations to host the North Korean leader also included an overall renovation of the Peace House, which was built in 1989.

"It has long been a venue for inter-Korean dialogue, including high-level talks, but never for a summit," a Cheong Wa Dae official said earlier.

The venue has also been completely refurnished with a new custom-made oval-shaped table that is exactly 2,018 millimeters across in center, highlighting the historic inter-Korean summit to be held in 2018.

Moon has expressed hope that his meeting with Kim will help start the North's denuclearization process moving forward, noting that they may also discuss the possibility of formally ending the Korean War as part of efforts to establish permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.

The two Koreas remain technically at war as the Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

The Moon-Kim summit is expected to be followed by what will be the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit. U.S. President Donald Trump has said his meeting with Kim will likely take place in May or early June.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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