Moon seeks to break nu­clear dead­lock

The Freeman - - WORLD -

South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in trav­els to Py­ongyang this week for his third sum­mit with Kim Jong Un, look­ing to break the dead­lock in nu­clear talks be­tween North Korea and the United States.

Moon, whose own par­ents fled the North dur­ing the Korean War, flies north on Tues­day for a three­day trip, fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of his pre­de­ces­sors Kim Dae-jung in 2000 and men­tor Roh Moo-hyun in 2007.

No de­tails of the pro­gram have been an­nounced, but Py­ongyang is likely to pull out all the stops to cre­ate a good im­pres­sion, with tens of thou­sands of peo­ple lin­ing the streets to wel­come him.

The visit comes af­ter the North put on its "Mass Games" pro­pa­ganda dis­play for the first time in five years. The new show fea­tured im­agery of Kim and Moon at their first sum­mit in April in the Demil­i­ta­rized Zone that di­vides the penin­sula -- prompt­ing the un­usual sight of tens of thou­sands of North Kore­ans in the May Day Sta­dium ap­plaud­ing pic­tures of Seoul's leader.

One diplo­matic source pre­dicted the visit would see "Kim and Moon to­gether re­ceiv­ing the same sort of ap­plause". But while the Pan­munjom sum­mit was high on head­line-grab­bing sym­bol­ism, with Moon step­ping briefly into the North and the two shar­ing an ex­tended one-to-one wood­land chat, pres­sure is mount­ing for sub­stan­tive progress.

Moon was in­stru­men­tal in bro­ker­ing the his­toric sum­mit be­tween US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Kim in Sin­ga­pore in June, when Kim backed de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of the "Korean penin­sula".

But no de­tails were agreed and Wash­ing­ton and Py­ongyang have sparred since over what that means and how it will be achieved. At the same time the US and South have some­times moved at rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent speeds in their ap­proach to the North.

Moon will try again to "play the role of fa­cil­i­ta­tor or me­di­a­tor", said his spe­cial ad­vi­sor on for­eign af­fairs Moon Chung-in.

"He be­lieves that im­proved in­ter-Korean re­la­tions have some role in fa­cil­i­tat­ing US-DPRK talks as well as solv­ing the North Korean nu­clear prob­lem," he told re­porters, us­ing the North's of­fi­cial acro­nym. Last month, Trump abruptly can­celled a planned visit by Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo to Py­ongyang, af­ter the North con­demned "gang­ster-like" de­mands for what it called its uni­lat­eral dis­ar­ma­ment.

Wash­ing­ton has been adamant that the North carry out a "fi­nal, fully ver­i­fied de­nu­cle­ariza­tion" first, while Py­ongyang is de­mand­ing a for­mal dec­la­ra­tion from the US that the Korean War is over.

But Kim has since sent Trump a let­ter seek­ing a sec­ond sum­mit and held a mil­i­tary pa­rade for his coun­try's 70th birth­day with­out show­ing off any in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles, prompt­ing warm tweets from the US pres­i­dent.

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