Philip Williams, ABC
Analysis – Peace at last. It sounds too good to be true, and it may be.
But the language of unity after the threat of catastrophic war just a year ago is remarkable.
The two sides will work towards signing a peace treaty formally ending the Korean war, sixty five years after the armistice was signed.
Both Koreas will work towards the denuclearisation of the peninsula.
The tone and language spoke of, “one nation, one language, one blood”.
“We can make a better future with our hands together,” Kim Jong-un said.
This could be the turning point where North Korea sees a new future beyond just the military – a future where the shattered economy could take precedence over the production and testing of ever greater means of mass murder.
Or it could be more of the same. A shonky regime buying time to further perfect its weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
And while the hard, perhaps impossible, job of putting this amazing declaration into effect will consume both North and South for the next few months there are, of course, other players with their own agendas.
The never shy Donald Trump has claimed credit for getting the North and South together, citing the pressure exerted by his sanctions, his military, and his strategic genius.
But now it’s his turn to make good his self-described talent as the greatest of dealmakers.
After a furious year of missile launches and Nuclear testing, a historic meeting between North and South Korea is now taking place. Good things are happening, but only time will tell!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 27, 2018
In a sense he will see what just transpired on the DMZ as a warm-up act ahead of his own tete-a-tete with the man he derided as “Little Rocket Man” – whose nuclear button was so much smaller than his own.
Now Mr Trump and Mr Kim will have to size one another up, test the handshake, rattle and roll the alpha cage and see who comes out on top – and who is the loser.
For Mr Trump the salesman’s view of winners and losers could have dangerous consequences.
Both men need to walk away from their talks due in the next six weeks or so able to claim a victory. Humiliation will not work for either party.
And yet Mr Trump has already tweeted that North Korea has given concessions by agreeing unilaterally to stop testing nuclear weapons and missiles while the US has given away nothing. Zilch. Round one to Donald Trump.
That combative approach might work in Trump Tower but this is an infinitely more complex and nuanced negotiation that has to give the appearance, at least, of two winners.
Neither Mr Kim nor Mr Trump could afford to return home beaten by the other.
Mr Trump has already warned he would walk out of the talks if he doesn’t like what he’s hearing – and that’s assuming we even get to a face-to-face meeting of such unlike minds.
The problem has been that successive American leaders have said the only acceptable result is that North Korea rid itself entirely of all its nuclear weapons and missiles – every single one, no wriggle room.
And for the North Koreans that has always been an impossible ask, until now it seems.
The Kim family cabal has ruthlessly controlled the north since the end of World War II, and considered nuclear weapons as their magic umbrella – protecting the nation from attack by the Americans and their evil allies in the south and further afield in places like Australia.
And you have to admit they have a point.
There is no way Mr Trump would be warming the engines of Airforce One if a certain Mr Kim did not possess the means of nuking Los Angeles or even New York .
Will Mr Trump take an America-first view of these talks or look after the interests of South Korea, Japan and even China – and how will any agreement be enforced?
Mr Trump will not accept anything less than a deal that is deliverable and verifiable, which would mean foreign inspectors poking around North Koreas nuclear facilities. Every single one of them.
Assume Mr Trump sticks to his rhetorical guns and insists on the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula – the now-avowed goal from both North and South Korea.
Read the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula.
There is not much room for interpretation is there? You either have nuclear weapons and missiles or you don’t.
Three generations of the Kim family have said they would never give up their nukes and now it appears Mr Kim is about to agree to do exactly that, which seems so unlikely after such vociferous claims the nukes were forever.
The problem is not the here and now. It’s the later after the ink has dried on all the agreement and the work of verification begins.
That is when the sincerity of any deal will be tested.
And if Mr Trump sees hesitation or cheating in any way, then the risk of Plan B being activated is a horror hanging over everyone.
If, however, Mr Kim really is a man reformed and does as promised then Mr Trump can claim much of the credit for tipping the balance.
It would be an extraordinary outcome – but we’ve been here before and seen Pyongyang’s promises trashed.
The difference is this time there really will be consequences.
Let’s hope the soothing words of peace and unity will become reality. Because the only other reality is unimaginable.