Then top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Il (R) and then South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun pose after they exchanged the Declaration for the Development of Inter-Korean Relations, Peace and Prosperity in Pyongyang, capital of DPRK, Oct. 4, 2007. (Xinhua/Pool)
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The much-anticipated summit is the culmination of rapprochement between Seoul and Pyongyang. The two leaders agreed to meet again later this year.
In fact, the rapprochement has long been planed and prepared by all sides concerned. The peace opportunity has been snowballing at a rapid pace.
In his New Year's address, top DPRK leader Kim expressed his readiness to send athletes and cheerleaders to the South Korea-hosted Winter Olympics, a peace overture responded to by South Korea with alacrity.
The 2018 Winter Olympics became a peace festival "as we made the Seoul (Summer) Olympics an opportunity to build peace about 30 years ago," South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha has told reporters.
Dan Mahaffee, senior vice president and director of policy at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress in Washington, D.C., told Xinhua that the push around the Olympics by the two top leaders has lowered tensions on the peninsula and led to the dialogue.
The ongoing positive developments are actually in line with China's "dual-track" approach of advancing denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula while establishing a peace mechanism.
Ukeru Magosaki, a former senior official at Japan's Foreign Ministry, said China is likely to persuade the DPRK and the United States to reach consensus. "China could play an important role in creating favorable conditions for Pyongyang and Washington," he said.
Jeong Se-hyun, chairman of the Institute for Peace and Cooperation and a former South Korean unification minister, opined that to sign a peace treaty on the Korean Peninsula, China must not be excluded. "The peace treaty must be signed to achieve the establishment of diplomatic ties between the United States and North Korea (the DPRK)."
"There is light at the end of the tunnel, but it will not be all smooth sailing ahead of us," Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said, urging relevant parties to promote the peace process step by step and meet each other half way with the precondition of denuclearization.
(Xinhua reporters Geng Xuepeng in Seoul, Wu Qiang in Pyongyang, Yan Lei in Tokyo, Xu Haijing in Canberra and Zhu Dongyang in Washington also contributed to the story.)