The South Korean President on Monday said he hopes to hold “detailed and substantive talks” with his North Korean counterpart at any time or place, stressing his view that Seoul needs to begin preparations for the next summit between the two.
Speaking at a meeting with senior officials in response to a speech by Kim Jong Un at the First Session of the 14th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) on Friday, Moon said the DPRK leader’s comments had demonstrated his “commitment to continuing dialogue.”
“Now is the time to begin making preparations in earnest for an inter-Korean summit and push ahead with it,” the South Korean President said.
In expressing his openness to resuming DPRK-U.S. dialogue and to engage in a third summit with President Trump, Moon continued, Kim Jong Un had last week “repeatedly clarified his firm determination” to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and establish peace.
“I have high regard for Chairman Kim’s unwavering commitment and very much welcome that,” he continued, stressing the two are agreed on the need to “move toward the future together by thoroughly implementing the Panmunjom Declaration and Pyongyang Joint Declarations of September.”
The South Korean government is “clearly and firmly committed to steadily implementing the inter-Korean joint declaration, even in the face of any obstacles,” Moon told key aides, adding that Seoul and Pyongyang should push ahead with what will be the fourth meeting between the leaders in that context.
“Now that we have affirmed our respective commitments, conditions to push ahead with the inter-Korean summit have been established,” he said.
That summit, he added, could take place “regardless of venue and format,” when the DPRK’s circumstances allow it.
“I hope that the North and South will be able to sit face to face and have detailed and substantive talks on how to achieve further progress that goes beyond the previous two rounds of North Korea-U.S. summits,” Moon said.
“As I have been doing all along, I will spare no effort to ensure that the upcoming inter-Korean summit becomes a stepping stone for even bigger opportunities and a more significant outcome.”
While the two leaders met twice in April and September last year for summits that were announced weeks in advance, they also held more informal talks in May at Tongilgak on the northern side of the Panmunjom truce village.
That unexpected meeting came just a few days after U.S. President Trump abruptly called off a planned summit with the DPRK leader, and served to restore momentum to what was then a deadlocked diplomatic process.
At a conference following that summit, Moon said the North Korean leader had proposed the two meet the previous afternoon, and that he had accepted the suggestion.
But despite Moon’s positive take on the speech, Friday’s also saw Kim openly denounce the South Korean government for acting as a “meddlesome ‘mediator’ and ‘facilitator’ as they busy themselves with foreign trips.”
The DPRK leader also urged the ROK government to become a “responsible party that defends the interests of the nation, speaking what they have to say squarely with a mind of their own as members of the nation.”
There would be no progress in improving inter-Korean relations and achieving peace and prosperity, Kim warned, unless the “anachronistic arrogance and hostile policy of the United States” is eradicated.
The remarks run counter to Seoul’s plan to “facilitate” nuclear negotiations through inter-Korean dialogue and “bolster the virtuous cycle of improvement in inter-Korean relations and progress in denuclearization” laid out in the annual Work Plan of the Ministry of Unification (MOU).
In spite of the DPRK’s criticism, Moon on Monday stressed his government will “fully carry out its responsibility and role in establishing peace on the Korean peninsula” including the “creation of a virtuous cycle between inter-Korean and U.S.-DPRK relations.”
Last week’s ROK-U.S. summit saw the South Korean President share plans to push forward with a sixth inter-Korean summit “soon,” director of the presidential National Security Office (NSO) Chung Eui-yong told press on Thursday.
In response, U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly asked Moon to, “through an inter-Korean summit or contact between the two Koreas,” clarify Pyongyang’s position on nuclear talks and keep Washington updated, a South Korean senior presidential official said at a closed-door briefing that same day.
Moon then promised to “make contact with North Korea in earnest after his return to hold the inter-Korean summit expeditiously.”
In his opening remarks, Moon on Monday also stressed that Trump had “agreed with the need for an inter-Korean summit” and echoed the U.S. President’s view that a trilateral summit between the three could take place if Kim Jong Un decided it was appropriate.
The ROK-U.S. summit last week also served as an opportunity to “eliminate the uncertainties posed in the wake of the 2nd DPRK-U.S. summit held in Hanoi and revive the momentum of dialogue between the DPRK and the U.S.,” the South Korean President said.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Blue House
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