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Nation & World

Kim Jong Un will walk across border for summit with South Korean president

A man hangs unification flags near Unification Bridge, which leads to the Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, Wednesday. South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet at the southern side of the Panmunjom on Friday.
A man hangs unification flags near Unification Bridge, which leads to the Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, Wednesday. South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet at the southern side of the Panmunjom on Friday.

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon-Jae-in will plant a commemorative tree and inspect an honor guard together after Kim walks across the border Friday for their historic summit, Seoul officials said Thursday.

The talks on the southern side of the border village of Panmunjom are expected to focus on North Korea's nuclear program, but there will be plenty of symbolism when Kim becomes the first North Korean leader to be in the southern section of the border since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Moon will receive Kim after he crosses the concrete slabs that form the rivals' military demarcation line Friday morning. They will then walk together for about 10 minutes to a plaza where they'll inspect a South Korean honor guard, Moon's chief of staff Im Jong-seok told reporters.

After signing the guestbook and taking a photo together at Peace House, the venue for Friday's summit, the two leaders will start formal talks at 10:30 a.m. (0130 GMT). They will later plant a pine tree on the border using a mixture of soil from both counties' mountains and water from their respective rivers. The tree, which is beloved by both Koreas, dates to 1953, the year the war ended, Im said.

Engraved on the stone plaque for the tree will be the phrase, "Peace and Prosperity Are Planted," as well as the signatures of the leaders. After the tree-planting, the two plan to stroll together to a footbridge where a signpost for the military demarcation line stands, Im said.

The leaders will meet again in the afternoon and later attend a banquet, Im said.

Im said Kim is to be accompanied by nine top North Korean officials, including his influential sister, Kim Yo Jong. Im said South Korea hopes Kim's wife, Ri Sol Ju, will attend parts of Friday's summit, but Ri's attendance hasn't been agreed to yet.

It's also not clear how the leaders will announce the results of the summit. The most difficult part, Im said, centers on North Korea's level of denuclearization commitment.

Friday's summit and Kim's planned meeting with President Donald Trump in May or early June were arranged after Kim recently expressed a wiliness to put his nuclear program up for negotiation after a year of nuclear and missile tests.

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