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As Korean Leaders Meet for Talks, Here’s What You Need to Know

As Korean Leaders Meet for Talks, Here’s What You Need to Know

A peace treaty was never negotiated, though the Chinese proposed one in 1954. Because the cease-fire was never succeeded by a treaty, technically the parties are still at war.

What is the Demilitarized Zone?

The Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, is a stretch of land that spans the Korean Peninsula at the 38th parallel, serving as a buffer between North and South Korea. Despite its name, it is heavily fortified with land mines, armed soldiers and barbed wire.

It is 160 miles long and about 2.5 miles wide. Panmunjom, located within the DMZ and just 35 miles from the South Korean capital, Seoul, is the site of the Joint Security Area, where troops from North and South Korea are separated by only a few feet.

A hotline directly connecting the two Korean leaders was installed last week. As a warm-up gesture, the line is supposed to be used by Mr. Kim and Mr. Moon before they travel to Panmunjom. Their talks will take place inside the Peace House, a conference center on the south side of the truce village.

What would a peace treaty mean?

Mr. Moon has said the leaders will talk about establishing a treaty that would formally end the Korean War.

In the past, North Korea has demanded that the American soldiers stationed in the South must leave the peninsula as a condition of peace. But Mr. Kim’s stance on the future of the 28,500 American troops appears to have softened in recent weeks.

Over the decades, American presidents have decreased the number of troops stationed in the South. The Trump administration has made no suggestion that it would shrink the military contingent further.

What is the likely outcome of Friday’s meeting?

Expect heavily scripted generalities. Mr. Kim and Mr. Moon plan to issue a joint declaration, which was largely brokered during a recent visit by South Korean officials to Pyongyang. Mr. Kim has said he is willing to discuss denuclearization in exchange for guarantees that his government would not be overthrown and his personal security would be assured.

The expected statement is likely to be short on specifics, intended to set the groundwork for more substantial negotiations between Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump. Watch for a commitment that the North and South will meet more regularly.

What should we expect from talks between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim?

The two leaders spent much of last year exchanging threats and insults, but Mr. Trump has been widely positive in his approach to Mr. Kim since the North Korean leader signaled a willingness to negotiate.

The president praised Mr. Kim’s announcement last week that he would suspend missile and nuclear tests and close a nuclear test site. So far, Mr. Trump has set no preconditions for talks with Mr. Kim.

But administration officials have been much firmer. They have called for a complete dismantlement of the nuclear arsenal in North Korea, a process that would need to be verified by inspections. Many experts see the latest offer from North Korea to suspend testing as an effort to wind back punishing United Nations sanctions.

Mr. Kim has called for the “phased” and “synchronized” implementation of any denuclearization deal, in which each stage of dismantlement would be met with incentives like the easing of sanctions.

Why is Japan wary of the rapprochement between Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump?

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan is worried that the United States will agree to a deal in which North Korea dismantles its intercontinental missiles, but keeps shorter-range missiles that can hit Japan.

Some analysts believe such an agreement would allow Mr. Trump to claim that he had saved the United States from the threat of North Korea, though doing so could come at the expense of Japan and South Korea.

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