[THE INVESTOR] President Moon Jae-in on May 27 said that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has “firm will” for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
He also said that he hopes to follow up the US-North Korea summit with a Seoul-Pyongyang-Washington summit to discuss declaring the end of the Korean War. The two Koreas are technically still at war, with the 1950-53 Korean War having ended in an armistice.
“Following up from the Panmunjeom Declaration, Chairman Kim again stated his will for complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Moon said at a press conference on his meeting with Kim.
Moon and Kim held a surprise summit meeting on the North’s side of Panmunjeom on May 26, on the request of Kim. Moon was accompanied by National Intelligence Service Director Suh Hoon, and Kim Jong-un by Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of the central committee of the ruling Workers’ Party.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (left) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un
“(Kim Jong-un) stated his intention to end the history of confrontation and war through a successful US-North Korea summit, and to cooperate for peace and prosperity,” Moon said.
The South Korean president also revealed that the two sides agreed to hold stalled high-level inter-Korean talks on June 1, and to hold military and Red Cross talks in succession.
Highlighting that the meeting came at a time when “small difficulties” in preparing for the US-North Korea summit needed to be addressed, Moon said that he was working to improve inter-Korean relations as well as US-North Korea relations.
On May 24, Trump had called off the meeting scheduled for June 12 in Singapore, citing hostile remarks from the North. Pyongyang responded the following day, saying that it is open to meeting with the US at any time, which then prompted Trump to hint at the possibility of the meeting going ahead as planned.
“I conveyed President Trump’s firm resolve to end hostile relations and provide economic cooperation if Chairman Kim brings about complete denuclearization,” Moon said, adding that he briefed Kim Jong-un on his meeting with US President Donald Trump.
“As both Kim and Trump wish for (a) successful US-North Korea summit, I stressed the need to dispel misunderstandings through direct communications, and for sufficient working-level talks on the agenda of the summit,” Moon said, adding that Kim expressed his agreement during their meeting.
At the press conference, Moon said that the success of the US-North Korea summit hinges on working-level talks between the two countries, and that he has high hopes that the meeting will go as planned on June 12.
Moon, however, said that the process of drawing up a roadmap for denuclearization will not be easy.
“Just as each step becomes harder when the peak of the mountain is in sight, the road to complete denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula will not be smooth,” Moon said, adding that Korean Peninsula issues face “a completely new beginning.”
“As the president, with all the authority and duties given to me by the people, I will walk this path, and succeed.”
Moon also said that he urged the US and North Korea to hold direct talks, adding that for Kim, uncertainties lie in whether the US will guarantee his regime.
“In contrast (to Kim’s concerns) President Trump stated clearly not only that hostile relations will end, but the intent to help (North Korea’s) economic development if North Korea denuclearizes,” Moon said.
“I am urging (North Korea and the US) to exchange such intentions, and to confirm the counterpart’s will through direct communications.”
Moon said that the US has an understanding of the North’s sincerity toward denuclearization talks, highlighting that the two countries agreement to hold a summit shows that Washington has confirmation of Kim’s intentions.
The South Korean leader declined to comment on how denuclearization will be achieved, saying that a roadmap has to be worked out by the US and North Korea.
By Choi He-suk/The Korea Herald (firstname.lastname@example.org)