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Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
Neither North Korea nor the U.S. want to lapse back into pre-2018 tensions, the South Korean President said on Monday, warning both sides against a “return to the past.”
Speaking in a meeting with senior officials, Moon Jae-in said he plans to use next week’s U.S.-ROK summit in Washington DC to hold “in-depth discussions on how the ROK and the U.S. can work together to advance the peace process on the Korean peninsula.”
Topics on the agenda for his discussions with U.S. President Donald Trump, he continued, include the resumption of DPRK-U.S. nuclear negotiations and the “complete denuclearization on the Korean peninsula.”
Ensuring a “virtuous circle” between the improvement of inter-Korean relations and those between Pyongyang and Washington, Moon added, will also be under discussion.
Though the South Korean President on Monday admitted that “temporary difficulties” have emerged in “making progress in the peace process on the Korean peninsula,” he said he remains optimistic about the future.
“It has been clearly confirmed that South and North Korea and the U.S. do not wish to return to the past,” Moon said.
“Both North Korea and the U.S. have shown their will to continue dialogue by managing the situation not to heighten tensions as in the past,” he continued.
“We will be able to reach new land after pushing our own way through tough waves. We will never go back to the past, and we cannot return.”
Plans for next week’s ROK-U.S. summit — set to be the seventh between the two Presidents and to take place on April 11 — were made in the aftermath of February’s surprise no-deal meeting between DPRK leader Kim Jong Un and Trump, Moon said.
The summit will underline South Korean government’s “consistent principle that it must make the peace process on the Korean peninsula successful regardless of any kind of difficulties” and the “firm determination of President Trump to reach an agreement between North Koran and the U.S. through dialogue.”
Speaking at the Monday meeting, Moon also called on Pyongyang to take action, saying he “expects that North Korea will respond to the efforts of the ROK and the U.S.”
The “peace process on the Korean peninsula is no easy journey… It would be rather strange if [we] did not go through any vicissitudes and difficulties,” he said, emphasizing the importance of a top-down approach in resolving the North Korean issue.
“For this reason, it began with a special resolution and agreement between the South and North Korean and the U.S. leaders and the confidence between the leaders and determination to make this journey continue.”
Speaking at a closed-door briefing on Friday, a senior official at the South Korean presidential office siad that Moon and Trump were expected to discuss the top-down approach “as a means to achieve complete denuclearization and establishing a peace regime on the Korea peninsula.”
Speaking at the meeting, Moon on Monday also reiterated that Seoul and Washington shared the goal of achieving the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and that the two maintained “close communication and coordination.”
The South Korean President, however, criticized some for attempting to “reverse the flow of peace on the Korean peninsula” and attempting to “return to the past of conflict and confrontation.”
“When we especially look back at the urgent crisis situation that existed before the dialogue began, these are truly irresponsible,” he said. “If the current dialogue ends in failure, the situation will get worse.”
Moon on Monday instead promised to “seek ways” to “realize the desire of South Korea and the world… for peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula.”
“We will make our own way if a road is blocked, and we will step forward to carve a path if there is no way.”
Reiterating that less than a year has passed since he and the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met in Panmunjom on April 27, Moon said “remarkable changes which led to the complete change in the flow of the situation on the Korean peninsula” had taken place since then.
“The astonishing accomplishments made… since the two Koreas and the U.S. began dialogue is a clear grounds to continue talks.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Rodong Sinmun