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(3rd LD) Moon arrives in Pyongyang for historic summit with Kim

All Headlines 09:58 September 18, 2018

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead to highlight Moon's arrival in Pyongyang; UPDATES with minor changes, additional information in paras 2-5)

SEOUL, Sept. 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in arrived in Pyongyang on Tuesday for a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un aimed at breaking a deadlock in denuclearization talks between the United States and North Korea, as well as further improving inter-Korean relations.

Moon's flight arrived at Pyongyang's Sunan International Airport at 9:50 a.m.

Hundreds of North Koreans, including leader Kim's sister, Yo-jong, were seen welcoming the South Korean president in a live feed of Moon's arrival broadcast in South Korea.

Moon is the third South Korean president ever to have visited Pyongyang.

His arrival in the North Korean capital came about one hour after his flight left Seoul Air Base in Seongnam at 8:55 a.m., also carrying some 110 other delegates and staff members, including top business leaders. An advance team of around 90 South Korean officials arrived in Pyongyang on Sunday.

Moon's trip comes amid a deadlock in denuclearization talks between the United States and North Korea.

The South Korean leader said he will seek to mediate a breakthrough in the denuclearization talks during his three-day trip to the North.

"One (objective) is to continue developing inter-Korean relations, and the other is to promote North Korea-U.S. dialogue aimed at denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Moon said while meeting with a group of North Korea experts and special advisers last week.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) and his wife Kim Jung-sook wave before boarding Air Force One for a three-day trip to Pyongyang on Sept. 18, 2018. (Yonhap)

Shortly before his departure from his office Cheong Wa Dae, the South Korean president said his North Korea visit would be a success if it could help restart the U.S.-North Korea dialogue, according to Yoon Young-chan, senior secretary to the president for public relations.

"(My) North Korea trip would have a great meaning if it could lead to the resumption of North Korea-U.S. dialogue," Moon was quoted as telling his aides before heading to Seoul Air Base.

The denuclearization talks stalled after U.S. President Donald Trump called off a scheduled North Korea trip by his top diplomat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, citing what he called a lack of progress in the denuclearization process.

Kim reaffirmed his commitment to denuclearize while meeting with Moon's special envoy and top security adviser Chung Eui-yong in Pyongyang this month.

The North Korean leader even expressed hope to complete denuclearization before Trump's first four-year presidency ends in January 2021, according to Chung.

Shortly after, Kim sent what the White House called a "very warm" and "very positive" letter to Trump, which has apparently made the U.S. president consider holding a second U.S.-North Korea summit with Kim.

(3rd LD) Moon arrives in Pyongyang for historic summit with Kim - 2

The South Korean president will have at least two encounters with the North Korean leader in Pyongyang, with their first official talks scheduled to be held shortly after Moon's arrival in the North Korean capital.

Moon will attend a welcome dinner later in the day that could possibly be hosted by Kim.

The two leaders will hold talks again on Wednesday before Moon attends a farewell dinner, again possibly hosted by Kim.

The Moon-Kim summit will mark the third of its kind since Moon took office in May 2017. The two leaders earlier met on April 27 and May 26 in the border village of Panmunjom that sits directly on the inter-Korean border.

Their meeting will also mark the fifth inter-Korean summit ever held. The first two rounds were held in 2000 and 2007, both in Pyongyang, involving then-South Korean presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun, in that order, and North Korea's late former leader Kim Jong-il.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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