North Korea announced on Friday that it has suspended key elements of its nuclear program, including the launching of long-range missiles and the nuclear testing in the northern part of the country, the Associated Press reports.
“From April 21, North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on April 20. “The North will shut down a nuclear test site in the country’s northern side to prove the vow to suspend nuclear test."
The shock announcement came ahead of North Korean dictator Kim John Un's planned historic summit with South Korean president Moon Jae-in, the Washington Post notes, the first such meeting between the two countries in more than a decade.
Moon's office also announced on Friday that the two Koreas had "opened a hotline between their leaders" ahead of the summit, Agence France-Presse reports.
On April 17, a report in South Korea's Munhwa Ilbo newspaper quoted an official claiming that the North and South planned on announcing an official end to the military conflict that has existed between the two since the Korean Armistice Agreement of 1953 ended open hostilities in the Korean War.
According to the Associated Press, Friday's decision was reached "in a meeting of the ruling party’s full Central Committee which had convened to discuss a 'new stage' of policies" regarding the bellicose regime.
Looming beyond next week's North-South summit lies the still-unscheduled meeting between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump, a historic confab that officials from the CIA to the Department of State are reportedly scrambling to prepare for.
This is a developing story and will be updated with new information as it becomes available.