DPRK, ROK leaders meet for summit

Updated: 2007-10-02 16:16

Kim Jong Il, leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) greeted Republic of Korea (ROK) President Roh Moo-hyun in Pyongyang on Tuesday to begin the second summit between the two countries since the peninsula's division after World War II.

ROK President Roh Moo-hyun (R) and DPRK leader Kim Jong-il shake hands at a welcome ceremony for Roh Moo-hyun in Pyongyang, October 2, 2007. [Agencies]

Thousands of people and a military honor guard heralded the leaders' first encounter outside a cultural hall in the DPRK capital, where Roh traveled some 3 1/2 hours by road from Seoul.

The two leaders walked down a red carpet where Kim introduced Roh to top DPRK leaders.

Neither made any public comment before Roh got back into his armored limousine to travel to the state guesthouse where he is staying for the summit that runs through Thursday.

Earlier during the 200-kilometer (125-mile) journey from Seoul to Pyongyang by road, Roh stepped out of his vehicle to walk across the border that divides the two Koreas in the center of the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone - the first time a South Korean leader has crossed the land border. In the first summit between the Koreas in 2000, then-President Kim Dae-jung flew to Pyongyang.

"This line is a wall that has divided the nation for a half-century. Our people have suffered from too many hardships and development has been held up due to this wall," Roh said, crossing near the DPRK city of Kaesong.

"This line will be gradually erased and the wall will fall," he said. "I will make efforts to make my walk across the border an occasion to remove the forbidden wall and move toward peace and prosperity."

Before leaving Seoul earlier Tuesday, Roh said he would build on the achievements from the first inter-Korea summit and "hasten the slow march" in reconciliation between the sides, which remain technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended by a truce, not a peace treaty..

"I intend to concentrate on making substantive and concrete progress that will bring about a peace settlement together with economic development," he said.

Roh acknowledged that ridding DPRK of nuclear weapons and establishing a peace treaty could not be realized by the two Koreas alone. But he said he would work to establish a concrete agreement on "building military trust and addressing humanitarian matters."

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