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View more articles by Dagyum Ji
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
North Korea must “substantially” demonstrate its willingness to completely denuclearize in order to alleviate the international community’s concerns and earn sanctions relief, the South Korean President said on Friday.
In a speech to the Swedish parliament as part of the last leg of an official state visit to Northern Europe, Moon told lawmakers that there continues to be fears of an “accidental clash and nuclear armament on the Korean peninsula.”
“In order to mitigate sanctions of the international community, the concern must be dispelled,” the President said.
“North Korea must substantially show to the international community its commitment to completely dismantling its nuclear weapons and to establishing a peace regime.”
Pyongyang needs to continue dialogue with the outside world in both bilateral or multilateral formats, he said, until it “earns the trust of the international community.”
“The international society will immediately respond if North Korea puts forth sincere efforts. Sanctions will be lifted and the safety of the North will be secured internationally.”
The North, Moon continued, must work to implement inter-Korean exchange and cooperation projects agreed by the two Koreas in order to build peace on the peninsula and demonstrate its commitment to dialogue.
The ROK government will work with the DPRK to restore the trust of the international community, he promised, as well as enhance peace on the peninsula, by “thoroughly implementing pledges our commitments enshrined in inter-Korean agreements.”
The President said the “complete denuclearization and the establishment of peace on the Korean peninsula will become a solid foundation for global non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and disarmament.”
Repeating his government’s policy that peace on the peninsula could lead to economic prosperity, the President said the two Koreas will face “more possibilities” once they have built greater trust.
“Once the two Koreas develop into a common economic community, with North Korea free from the international sanctions, the Korean peninsula will… become a place where Asia’s potential is realized,” he said. “The South and North can prosper together.”
Moon previously said he would help “usher in an era of a peace-driven economy on the Korean peninsula” in a symbolic speech marking the centenary of Korea’s March 1 independence movement.
To this end, he proposed the setting-up of an inter-Korean joint economic committee aimed at producing economic growth beneficial for the two Koreas, but stressed this could only be feasible following progress in the denuclearization process.
In his speech Friday, the South Korean President proposed three areas in which the two Koreas must built trust, reiterating that Seoul and Pyongyang “must believe that dialogue is the sole path to peace.”
“Peace can come true only through peaceful means, which is dialogue,” he said. “It is dialogue, not nuclear arms, that will keep North Korea secure.”
The “foremost and immutable prerequisite for peace” is mutual respect and guaranteeing each other’s political system, he added. “If North Korea takes the path of dialogue, no one would threaten the political system or safety of North Korea.”
“North Korea must believe that every problem will be solved by dialogue and trust its dialogue partners,” the President stressed, adding the establishment of mutual trust is a “prerequisite for dialogue.”
To achieve the goal of establishing peace on the peninsula, Moon also said trust between people in the North and South would be needed.
The two Koreas, he admitted, would not be able to resolve seven decades of separation and confrontation in a single day.
Moon also used his speech at the Riksdag to thank Sweden for having “played a crucial role to provide opportunities for the parties directly concerned in establishing peace on the Korean peninsula to meet and communicate with one another.”
Sweden has frequently played host to both official-to-official and 1.5 track dialogue between the U.S. and the two Koreas, most recently in January, between then-DPRK vice foreign minister Choe Son Hui and her ROK and U.S. counterparts Lee Do-hoon and Stephen Biegun.
“We will never forget the huge role that Sweden has assumed from the first inter-Korean summit in 2000 to the two historic summits between the United States and North Korea most recently,” he said.
Seoul has in the past few weeks sought to bring an end to a now-months-long impasse in inter-Korean dialogue, with President Moon expressing an interest in holding a summit with Kim Jong Un before meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Seoul at the end of the month.
On Thursday Moon repeatedly reiterated his desire to meet Kim Jong Un at any time.
“I do not know if an inter-Korean summit can take place in June,” he told assembled media during a joint news conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg as part of an official state visit to Oslo.
“But it is not physically impossible, as we have experience with holding summits after only short-term contact and consultation.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Blue House