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North-South Korea taking small steps towards reconciliation

SEOUL: In initial small steps towards reconciliation, South Korea said that it would remove loudspeakers that blared propaganda across the border, while North Korea said it would shift its clocks to align with its southern neighbour.

The moves come after Friday’s historic summit at which South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the North’s leader Kim Jong Un agreed to end hostilities and work towards “complete denuclearisation” of the Korean peninsula.

South Korea turned off the loudspeakers that broadcast a mixture of news, Korean pop songs and criticism of the North Korean regime as a goodwill gesture ahead of the summit. It will begin removing the speakers on Tuesday.

“We see this as the easiest first step to build military trust,” South Korean defence ministry spokeswoman Choi Hyun-soo said. “We are expecting the North’s implementation.”

The feel-good summit has boosted South Koreans’ trust in North Korea, a poll Monday showed, even though the meeting’s final declaration leaves many questions unanswered, particularly what “denuclearisation” means or how that will be achieved.

Much now hinges on Kim’s upcoming summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, who said the meeting could happen over the next three to four weeks.

Any deal with the United States will require that North Korea demonstrate “irreversible” steps to shutting down its nuclear weapons programme, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday.

A flurry of diplomacy is unfolding in the lead-up to that meeting, with China saying it will send the government’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, to visit North Korea on Wednesday and Thursday this week. China is the North’s main ally.

 And over the weekend, South Korea’s spy chief visited Tokyo to brief Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

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