ROK’s Moon op­ti­mistic on DPRK, US

The pres­i­dent hopes that a sec­ond Trump-Kim sum­mit will be ‘soon’

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By CHINA DAILY Yon­hap, AP and Xinhua con­trib­uted to this story.

The Repub­lic of Korea Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in on Thursday stressed the need for “cor­re­spond­ing mea­sures” by the United States to fur­ther ac­cel­er­ate the de­nu­cle­ariza­tion process, as he said a sec­ond US-DPRK sum­mit is “im­mi­nent”.

Moon made the re­marks at his first na­tion­ally tele­vised news con­fer­ence this year held in the ROK’s pres­i­den­tial Blue House.

He stressed that Wash­ing­ton “must con­sider cor­re­spond­ing mea­sures to fur­ther pro­mote the de­nu­cle­ariza­tion process” while Py­ongyang should also take more con­crete and faster de­nu­cle­ariza­tion steps if it wishes to re­solve the is­sue of in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions.

His re­marks fol­low months of de­bates be­tween the US and the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea over the se­quences of de­nu­cle­ariza­tion.

Py­ongyang is said to be de­mand­ing “cor­re­spond­ing mea­sures” for the de­nu­cle­ariza­tion steps it has taken so far, while Wash­ing­ton said it needs to do more.

The ROK pres­i­dent said such a gap may stem from years of dis­trust and hos­til­ity.

“I think both sides are aware. Py­ongyang knows it needs to take more con­crete de­nu­cle­ariza­tion steps in the end to re­move in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions, and Wash­ing­ton too sees the need for cor­re­spond­ing mea­sures to en­cour­age Py­ongyang’s de­nu­cle­ariza­tion,” Moon said.

“How­ever, they are ask­ing the other side to act first be­cause they can­not trust each other. I be­lieve that is why the sec­ond sum­mit has been de­layed un­til now,” he added.

Moon noted the sec­ond TrumpKim sum­mit will be im­mi­nent, say­ing the DPRK top leader Kim Jong-un’s trip to China this week has shown a pos­i­tive in­di­ca­tion.

“I be­lieve Chair­man Kim’s China visit is a sign that the sec­ond sum­mit is not far away. China has con­tin­ued to play a pos­i­tive role in the process of in­ter-Korean di­a­logue, as well as US-DPRK talks,” he said.

While there are con­cerns that the DPRK and the US might be quar­rel­ing over what “com­plete de­nu­cle­ariza­tion” should en­tail, Moon said the DPRK top leader fully un­der­stands and agrees with the def­i­ni­tion of com­plete de­nu­cle­ariza­tion used by Wash­ing­ton and the rest of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.

“Kim Jong-un has clearly stated to the lead­ers of each coun­try that he has met, in­clud­ing my­self, that there is no dif­fer­ence be­tween the com­plete de­nu­cle­ariza­tion he is talk­ing about and the com­plete de­nu­cle­ariza­tion the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity de­mands,” Moon said.

Moon also ex­pressed hope for Kim to visit the ROK in the near fu­ture, pos­si­bly fol­low­ing his sec­ond sum­mit with the US pres­i­dent. Kim had agreed to visit Seoul to re­cip­ro­cate Moon’s trip to Py­ongyang in Septem­ber for their third bi­lat­eral sum­mit.

In ad­di­tion, Moon said his coun­try will re­sume its eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion with the DPRK as soon as in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions are re­moved.

“As many of you have said, our econ­omy is fac­ing struc­tural dif­fi­cul­ties and is no longer able to re­al­ize high growth rates like in the past. I be­lieve in­ter-Korean eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion will pro­vide a new growth en­gine that re­vi­tal­izes our econ­omy,” he said.

Moon was also asked about a court ruling on Wednesday. An ROK court said it would freeze the lo­cal as­sets of a Ja­panese steel com­pany in­volved in a com­pen­sa­tion dis­pute with wartime Korean la­bor­ers, lead­ing to a di­plo­matic spat be­tween the two neigh­bors.

Ja­pan called on Seoul’s top diplo­mat to Tokyo on Wednesday to file its com­plaint.

Moon ex­pressed re­grets over what he called an at­tempt by the Ja­panese govern­ment to politi­cize his­tor­i­cal is­sues be­tween the two coun­tries.

“The ROK govern­ment has re­peat­edly said we should ad­dress those is­sues sep­a­rately while mak­ing sure the coun­tries’ re­la­tions are not dam­aged,” the pres­i­dent said.

JUNG YEON-JE VIA REUTERS

ROK Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in holds his New Year news con­fer­ence at the pres­i­den­tial Blue House in Seoul on Thursday.

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