Seoul will take the initiative in dialogue on humanitarian cooperation with North Korea regardless of Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons, South Korean President Moon Jae-in reiterated on Wednesday.
The comment comes two days after the South Korea sent a proposal to North Korea for talks on easing military tensions and the reunion of separated families on Monday.
Seoul hopes that talks will take place on July 21 and August 1.
President Moon reinstated that he “explained several times the difference between dialogue on denuclearization and talks dealing with non-political and humanitarian issues” in meetings with U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the G20 earlier in the month.
“The dialogue for denuclearization requires the right conditions,” Moon was quoted by the Blue House spokesperson Park Soo-hyun as saying. “But separately, humanitarian dialogue is what we will lead and we agreed that this can also help the denuclearization [of the North].”
Moon made the comment at a luncheon with representatives of South Korea’s main political parties at the presidential Blue House.
“[You] are worried about North Korea policy, but [the South Korean government] informed the U.S. of the proposal to Pyongyang in advance and asked for Japan’s understanding,” Moon told party leaders, attempting to alleviate concerns over the administration’s continued policy of pursuing inter-Korean dialogue amid opposition from the U.S. and Japan.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer told journalists at a briefing on Tuesday that it was Seoul’s right to pursue talks with the North.
“That being said, I think the President has made clear in the past with respect that any type of conditions that would have to be met are clearly far away from where we are now,” he added.
Japanese officials on Monday struck a harder tone against Seoul.
“This is not a time for dialogue. This is a time for pressure,” Japan’s foreign ministry spokesman Norio Maruyama told reporters in New York. “This is a time to raise pressure in order to conduct a serious dialogue.”
Meanwhile, South Korean Ministry of Unification (MOU) said on Wednesday that the authorities would allow Hyundai Asan to make contact with North Koreans.
Hyundai Asan submitted a proposal to the MOU on Tuesday to hold discussions with the North over a potential memorial service marking the 14th anniversary of the death of Chung Mong-hun, former chairman of the company and the son of its founder, at the Mount Kumgang resort.
A company official told NK News earlier in the month that officials from Hyundai Asan, a subsidiary of the South Korean car manufacturer and former organizer of trips to the inter-Korean Mount Kumgang resort, were planning to visit North Korea next month.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: South Korean government
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