SEOUL - In an unprecedented and historic move, the leaders of the two Koreas have signed a joint statement saying they are committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and bringing an official end to the Korean War.
The two leaders embraced after signing the joint statement.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Friday at a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that the two leaders were ushering in a “new era of peace.”
Kim said the Korean people are “one nation.”
Kim and Moon held a historic summit at the truce village of Panmunjom Friday and announced that Moon will visit North Korea later this year.
They also announced a reunion of war-separated families later this year.
Earlier Friday, a South Korean official said the talks between Kim and Moon have been “serious, frank” discussions.
The South quoted North Korea’s leader as saying: “We should value this opportunity so that the scars between the South and North could be healed.”
During the talks Kim expressed an interest in visiting South Korea and the Blue House, the presidential mansion.
The two leaders exchanged a warm handshake over the demarcation line that divides the two countries before the beginning of the summit.
North Korea’s Kim then crossed the border with South Korea’s Moon.
“I am happy to meet you,” Moon said.
Kim then invited Moon to cross briefly north with him before they returned to the southern side.
WATCH: Highlights from the opening ceremony
It is the first time a member of the Kim dynasty has set foot on southern soil since the end of the Korean War in 1953 in the latest bid to settle the world’s last Cold War standoff.
The wives of the two leaders joined them later Friday for a banquet.
This is the third inter-Korean summit — the summits in 2000 and 2007 were held in North Korea.
The White House released a statement late Thursday, shortly after the two leaders shook hands.
“We are hopeful that talks will achieve progress toward a future of peace and prosperity for the entire Korean Peninsula. The United States appreciates the close coordination with our ally, the Republic of Korea, and looks forward to continuing robust discussions in preparation for the planned meeting between President Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong Un in the coming weeks.”
Kim and Trump are expected to meet in May or June.
Pomp and circumstance
The greeting of the two leaders was planned to the last detail.
Two fifth-grade students from the Daesongdong Elementary School, the only South Korean school within the DMZ, greeted the leaders and gave them flowers. Kim and Moon then saluted an honor guard and military band, the two leaders introduced each other to the officials accompanying them.
In the North Korean delegation are Kim’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, and former intelligence chief Kim Yong Chol, the top official in charge of relations with the South.
This first inter-Korean summit in over a decade marks a dramatic turn toward diplomacy to resolve the growing North Korean nuclear threat, after a two-year period of continuous North Korean nuclear and missile tests.
Kim has suspended further tests and declared in November that North Korea achieved its goal of developing the capability to target the U.S. mainland with intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM.)
The U.S., however, argues that further testing is needed to demonstrate operational ICM capability. Also in the last year Trump’s maximum pressure campaign led international efforts to impose tough sanctions restricting most North Korea exports, that may have forced Kim to pursue talks to seek sanctions relief.
Recently North Korea announced it would close its Punggye-ri nuclear test site but analysts are skeptical that these measures would lead to any permanent reduction in the country’s nuclear capabilities.
This year North Korea participated in the recent Olympics in South Korea, and Kim subsequently expressed a willingness to engage in denuclearization talks.
Lee Yoon-jee in Seoul contributed to this report.