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Korean leaders sign peace pledge

  • Story Highlights
  • North, South Korea agree on need to "establish permanent peace"
  • Pact calls for North, South Korean leaders to meet often on "pending issues"
  • Also discussed was an exchange of video letters between separated families
  • Military ministers for the two Koreas will meet in Pyongyang on Friday
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SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun signed an eight-point peace agreement with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il on Thursday at a summit in Pyongyang, North Korea.

The leaders pledged to work toward forging a permanent peace treaty between their nations, which ended the 1950-1953 war with a cease-fire.

The Koreas have remained technically at war for 54 years. The armistice was signed July 27, 1953.

"South and North Korea agree on [the] need to end the current armistice and establish permanent peace," the fourth point of the agreement says.

In addition, the two sides will push "for a declaration of the ending of the Korean War in cooperation with neighboring nations."

"If there is nuclear disarmament, and if the peace treaty moves forward, I believe that the Cold War era will end and there will really be reunification and peace between the two countries," Roh said in a speech to government officials that was nationally televised on his return home.

"Any conflicting issues, we said we would talk about it. And we said that we would work together," Roh said. "I don't think there will be problems in the future."

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called the agreement "a major step forward to enhance inter-Korean cooperation as well as peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia."

"The United Nations stands ready to provide assistance as may be required, in cooperation with the international community," Ban said in a statement issued by his office.

Roh admitted that after arriving in the North Korean capital and meeting Kim, he was so worried that he couldn't sleep that night.

"I can say simply [that] we were able to communicate. Things went better," said Roh.

On Tuesday, Roh became the first South Korean leader to walk across the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone between the two countries. His predecessor, Kim Dae-jung, flew to Pyongyang for the first Korean leader summit in 2000.

Roh said one of the most important aspects of the talks was an agreement to designate a joint fishing area and economic zone along the disputed western sea border, where there were bloody naval clashes in 1999 and 2002.

"We believe the north-south summit went a step further and confirmed what is happening in the six-nation talks," Roh said.

The United States, North Korea, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea are involved in nuclear agreements made earlier in the year that will lead to the disabling of North Korea's nuclear facilities.

On Wednesday, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said that a U.S. team, including technical experts, will head to North Korea next week, after the communist country agreed to begin the process.

The experts will make it difficult to restart a nuclear program by sealing North Korea's main nuclear facility and removing certain components that would not be easy to replace.

The goal in the next phase, Hill said, is complete dismantlement, but that could take up to five years.

The reconciliation pact also calls for North and South Korean leaders to meet often for discussions on "pending issues." That pact stipulates that there will be a meeting between Korean prime ministers in Seoul in November.

Military ministers for the two Koreas will meet in Pyongyang on Friday.

Among the long list of agreements made during the summit are expanded economic cooperation and a proposed exchange of video letters between families separated by the divided Korean peninsula.

Roh and Kim opened formal talks Wednesday at the first summit between the divided countries in seven years.

Hundreds of North Koreans cheered Roh's arrival at the April 25 Hall of Culture in downtown Pyongyang on Tuesday, waving large spikes of KimJongilia, the brilliant pink flower named for North Korea's reclusive leader.

The two leaders shook hands during a short opening ceremony.

The meeting with Kim Jong Il, announced in early August, was initially scheduled for the end of that month but was postponed after massive flooding in Pyongyang.

The Koreas summit also comes in the final months of Roh's scandal-ridden term, and some analysts suspect the South Korean leader is hoping the Pyongyang meeting will boost his sagging approval ratings and help position his party in the upcoming elections against the conservative opposition.

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The 2000 summit, part of Kim Dae-jung's policy of engagement with North Korea, paved the way for his Nobel Peace Prize awarded that same year.

But South Korean investigators later revealed that Kim Dae-jung paid hundreds of millions of dollars to secure the meeting, the first between Stalinist North Korea and capitalist South Korea. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Seoul Bureau Chief Sohn Jie-ae contributed to this report.

All About Roh Moo-hyunKim Jong-ilNorth KoreaSouth Korea

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