Seoul: South Korean President Moon Jae-in arrived in Pyongyang Tuesday for his third summit this year with Kim Jong Un as he seeks to reboot stalled denuclearisation talks between North Korea and the United States.
Kim welcomed his visitor at Pyongyangâs international airport -- where he supervised missile launches last year as tensions mounted -- the two men embracing after Moon walked down the steps of his aircraft.
Accompanied by their wives, they exchanged pleasantries for a few minutes ahead of a military welcome ceremony as hundreds of people lining the tarmac cheered, waving North Korean flags and unification ones showing an undivided peninsula.
But the Southâs own emblem was only visible on Moonâs Boeing 747 aircraft.
Â âLetâs open an era of peace and prosperity with the solidarity of one people,â read a hoarding displayed outside the terminal.
The nuclear-armed North invaded its neighbour in 1950, starting the Korean War, although it now regularly stresses the importance of reunifying with the now far wealthier South.
Moon -- whose own parents fled the North during the three-year conflict -- is on a three-day trip, following in the footsteps of his predecessors Kim Dae-jung in 2000 and mentor Roh Moo-hyun in 2007.
The Northâs Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the summit âwill offer an important opportunity in further accelerating the development of inter-Korean relations that is making a new history.â
The first visit by a South Korean leader to Pyongyang in a decade is also the menâs third meeting this year after two previous summits in April and May in the Demilitarized Zone that divides the peninsula.
Moon has been instrumental in brokering the diplomatic thaw that saw a historic summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June, where Kim backed denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
But no details were agreed and Washington and Pyongyang have sparred since over what that means and how it will be achieved.
The US is pressing for the Northâs âfinal, fully verified denuclearisationâ, while Pyongyang wants a formal declaration that the 1950-53 Korean War is over and has condemned âgangster-likeâ demands for it to give up its weapons unilaterally.
Only ârosy headlines?â
The dovish South Korean president will hold at least two meetings with the Northâs leader, where he will try to convince Pyongyang to carry out substantive steps towards disarmament.
âIf this visit somehow leads to the resumption of the US-North Korea talks, it would be significant enough in itself,â he was quoted as saying before departure.
But analysts played down expectations.
The meeting âwill probably generate rosy headlines but do little to accelerate efforts to denuclearise North Koreaâ, Eurasia Group said in a note.
Kim would push for enhanced North-South cooperation âespecially in areas that promise economic benefits for the Northâ, it added.
âProgressives inside and outside Moonâs government will have strong incentives to inflate the summitâs accomplishments, initially obscuring what will likely be a lack of major deliverables.â
Moon was accompanied by business tycoons including Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong and the vice chairman of Hyundai Motor, and is scheduled to visit key sites in Pyongyang with his delegation.
Moon -- whose poll ratings have been falling in the face of a struggling economy in the South -- has been pushing inter-Korean cooperation but South Korean media have urged caution, calling for such schemes to await substantial progress towards denuclearisation.
The presidentâs office has said the inclusion of the businessmen was ânot special,â given the heads of major conglomerates had been in Pyongyang for the previous inter-Korean summits in the city.
âQuite a number of people are now fed up with the surprise events between the leaders,â the conservative Chosun Ilbo newspaper said in an editorial Tuesday.
âPresident Moon must head to Pyongyang with the resolve that the first, second, third agenda of this summit is denuclearisation.â
Other issues on Moonâs agenda include improving inter-Korean ties and easing military tensions on the peninsula.
Seoul said that could lay the groundwork for a formal declaration on the Korean War, when hostilities ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty -- implying that such an announcement was unlikely during the trip.