NATIONAL

Moon continues week of summit diplomacy

By Choi He-suk
  • Published : Feb 7, 2018 - 17:48
  • Updated : Feb 7, 2018 - 17:48
President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday continued a long series of summit-level talks in the run-up to the opening of the PyeongChang Olympics on Friday.

Moon kicked of the day on Wednesday with a meeting with Governor General of Canada Julie Payette, and later met with Lithuania President Dalia Grybauskaite.

President Moon Jae-in and Governor General of Canada Julie Payette hold summit talks at Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday. Yonhap

In the talks with Payette, Seoul-Ottawa relations were discussed, as well as the upcoming games. Moon also touched on Canada’s stance on the North Korean nuclear issue and requested the country’s support in future developments.

“I hope that the atmosphere of peace and inter-Korean dialogue will continue after the Olympics so that inter-Korean relations are improved and the North Korean nuclear issue is resolved peacefully,” Moon said.

“I thank you for Canada’s continuous support for South Korea’s stance on North Korean nuclear issue, and hope for Canada’s continued support to maintain the atmosphere of dialogue.”

Payette said that the South Korea-Canada Free Trade Agreement has proved fruitful, and expressed hopes for the two countries to increase cooperation in a wider range of fields.

Wednesday’s meetings are part of a series of such meetings with state heads and top-level officials that Moon is scheduled to hold before the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Olympics, which started a day earlier with a South Korea-Estonia summit Tuesday.

On Thursday, Moon will meet the presidents of Germany, Poland and Switzerland, China’s Politburo Standing Committee member Han Zheng, and with US Vice President Mike Pence.

On the following day, the South Korean leader will hold talks with the prime ministers of Japan and the Netherlands.

Moon’s meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Pence -- who held talks in Japan on Wednesday -- are seen as the highlight of the summit meetings arranged ahead of the PyeongChang Games.

The Abe government has voiced strong criticism of the Moon administration’s assessment of the 2015 agreement on Japan’s sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War II. The Japanese leader has stated that he would take up the matter directly with Moon.

Last year, an independent committee established to review controversies surrounding the agreement found the agreement had been pushed through under pressure from former President Park Geun-hye’s office, and Moon has since stated that the agreement falls short of appeasing the victims. Moon, however, has ruled out renegotiating the agreement.

As for Pence, the US vice president arrives at a time when Seoul has been repeatedly stating hopes for US-North Korea talks.

Although top US officials have been ambiguous about such an outcome, a White House official has been quoted as saying that offsetting North Korean propaganda is a part of the reason for Pence’s visit to the PyeongChang Olympics. The US vice president’s itinerary for the visit also suggests that highlighting Pyongyang’s rogue status will be higher on the agenda than engaging North Korea at the games.

During his stay, Pence will visit the wreck of the South Korean warship Cheonan, sunk by North Korea in 2010, and meet with North Korean defectors.

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)