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(2nd LD) Moon returns home after historic summit, mountain trip with N. Korean leader

All Headlines 17:39 September 20, 2018

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead to highlight Moon's arrival in Seoul; UPDATES with more information, minor changes in paras 2-4)

SEOUL/PYONGYANG, Sept. 20 (Joint Press Corps-Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in returned home Thursday after a three-day trip to North Korea for his third summit with leader Kim Jong-un.

Moon arrived at Seoul Air Base at 5:36 p.m., about two hours after his flight left North Korea's Samjiyon airport near Mount Paekdu.

His departure from the North came after a joint trip with Kim to Mount Paekdu that highlighted the success of their bilateral summit in Pyongyang.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (2nd from R) and his wife, Kim Jung-sook, (R) pose for a photo with their North Korean counterparts Kim Jong-il and Ri Sol-ju during their joint trip to Mount Paekdu in North Korea on Sept. 20, 2018. (Joint Press Corps-Yonhap)

His first-ever visit to Pyongyang was largely aimed at breaking an impasse in denuclearization talks between the United States and North Korea.

The talks have stalled since U.S. President Trump called off a scheduled North Korea trip by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in July, citing a lack of progress in the North's denuclearization process.

In a joint declaration issued Wednesday, Moon and Kim reaffirmed their commitment to completely rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons.

In an apparent gesture to partly answer the United States' demand for more denuclearization steps, the North Korean leader agreed to permanently dismantle the country's missile testing site and launch pads in Dongchang-ri.

He also offered to permanently dismantle the Yongbyon nuclear facility in exchange for certain "corresponding measures" from the U.S.

Trump appeared to have welcomed the outcome of the latest inter-Korean summit in a Twitter message that said there will be no more "rocket or nuclear testing" at least for now.

Hours after, the top U.S. diplomat said he has invited North Korean officials to meet with the new U.S. special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, in Vienna, Austria, "at the earliest opportunity."

"On the basis of these important commitments, the United States is prepared to engage immediately in negotiations to transform U.S.-DPRK relations," Pompeo said, referring to the joint declaration of the leaders of the two Koreas.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shake hands after holding a joint press conference at the North's state guesthouse, Paekhwawon, in Pyongyang on Sept. 19, 2018 to announce the outcome of their bilateral summit in the North Korean capital. (Joint Press Corps-Yonhap)

Moon is set to visit New York next week for a bilateral summit with the U.S. president, his office Cheong Wa Dae has said.

The South Korean president is widely expected to urge the U.S. to make some concessions and meet North Korea in the middle.

"Because this issue is not something we can address ourselves, I plan to hold candid talks with Chairman Kim Jong-un on where we can find an intersecting point between the United States' call for denuclearization steps and the North's demand for corresponding steps to guarantee its security and end the hostile relationship (between the U.S. and North Korea)," Moon said before heading into this week's talks with Kim.

Moon and Kim have agreed to meet again in Seoul before the year's end for what would be their fourth bilateral summit.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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