S. Korean urges ‘con­crete’ ac­tion

Moon calls on Trump, North’s Kim to be ‘clearer’ in next talks

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL - SI­MON DENYER

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in said Thursday that U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and his North Korean coun­ter­part, Kim Jong Un, needed to move from “ab­stract” talk to “con­crete” ac­tion the next time they meet, to speed up their peace process and bridge mis­trust.

In an an­nual tele­vised news con­fer­ence, Moon said Kim’s trip to China this week sug­gested a U.S.-North Korea sum­mit could be near­ing, ad­ding that he ex­pected news soon of high-level talks be­tween of­fi­cials from Wash­ing­ton and Py­ongyang to plan for such a meet­ing.

But he also called on Trump and Kim to “re­flect” on the fact that their last meet­ing in Sin­ga­pore had re­sulted only in an “ab­stract agree­ment,” us­ing a Korean word some­where be­tween re­flec­tion, re­gret and self-ex­am­i­na­tion. When they next meet, both men should then reach “clearer agree­ments on spe­cific mu­tual mea­sures.”

North Korea, he said, needed to be “bolder” in tak­ing steps to­ward de­nu­cle­ariza­tion, while Wash­ing­ton needs to give Py­ongyang some “en­cour­age­ment.”

“North Korea knows it needs to take clear de­nu­cle­ariza­tion steps to see in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions lifted, and I think the United States also re­al­izes that re­cip­ro­cal mea­sures are needed to match these North Korean de­nu­cle­ariza­tion steps,” Moon said.

Moon has been work­ing hard to me­di­ate be­tween Trump and Kim over the past year, and it is rare for him to ex­press even veiled crit­i­cism of ei­ther man. But his govern­ment has ex­pressed ea­ger­ness for the peace process to move for­ward more quickly than it has been.

The South Korean pres­i­dent did not say ex­actly what steps he wanted Wash­ing­ton to take, but said he wanted to see in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions to be eased as soon as pos­si­ble to en­able greater eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two Koreas.

Trump and Kim agreed in Sin­ga­pore to es­tab­lish new, peace­ful re­la­tions be­tween their two coun­tries while North Korea also promised to “work to­ward the com­plete de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of the Korean Penin­sula.”

Since that his­toric agree­ment, how­ever, progress has stalled, with Wash­ing­ton frus­trated that Py­ongyang has not agreed to de­clare a list of its nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties, and North Korea dis­pleased that the United States has done noth­ing to ease sanc­tions and sig­nal a new era of peace­ful re­la­tions.

In a tele­vised New Year’s Day speech, Kim said he wants to fix the “un­sa­vory” past re­la­tions be­tween North Korea and the United States, is ready to meet Trump at any time and “will make ef­forts to ob­tain with­out fail re­sults which can be wel­comed by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.”

But he also warned he “may be com­pelled to find a new way to de­fend his coun­try’s sovereignty” and achieve peace — if the United States breaks its prom­ise by main­tain­ing sanc­tions and de­mand­ing North Korea take uni­lat­eral steps.

Kim also said he wanted to re­sume eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion with the South “with­out pre­con­di­tions” to re­open a joint eco­nomic zone in Kaesong and a joint tourism project in Mount Kum­gang in the North.

Moon wel­comed that com­mit­ment, and said his govern­ment would co­op­er­ate with the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing the United States, “to re­solve the re­main­ing is­sues such as in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions as soon as pos­si­ble” to al­low both projects to go ahead.

He said it was wrong to sug­gest that co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two Koreas would be a bur­den on the South’s econ­omy, de­scrib­ing it as a po­ten­tial “bless­ing” for his coun­try’s busi­ness sec­tor.

AP/Korean Cen­tral News Agency

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (cen­ter left) bids farewell to Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Party’s In­ter­na­tional Depart­ment head Song Tao (cen­ter right) at a sta­tion in the Chi­nese bor­der town of Dan­dong on Wednesday.

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