Speaking at a meeting with the leaders of five political parties held at Cheong Wa Dae, Moon emphasized that denuclearization is the goal, and that no concessions have been given to Pyongyang.
|President Moon Jae-in (center) meets political leaders at Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday. (Yonhap)|
“We are at a very important juncture in (establishing) peace on the Korean Peninsula and denuclearization,” Moon said at the meeting, which brought together the leaders of all five parties -- the Democratic Party, Liberty Korea Party, Bareun Mirae Party, Justice Party, and Party for Democracy and Peace -- for the first time since Moon took office in May last year.
Highlighting that he has maintained close communication with US President Donald Trump on related matters, Moon went on to say that the US leader appears to hold the results brought back by his special envoys to Pyongyang in a positive light.
The special envoys, led by National Security Office chief Chung Eui-yong, returned from Pyongyang on Tuesday with a list of agreements, including plans to hold an inter-Korean summit at the end of April.
Asked if his envoys had suggested plans for a phased denuclearization while in the North, Moon said that no such suggestions were made. After Moon’s plans to send special envoys were made known, local media speculated that the envoys would suggest a three-step denuclearization plan.
Moon also stressed that no concessions or promises have been made to Pyongyang in return for holding the summit meeting.
Moon was quoted as saying by the Bareun Mirae Party that sanctions would not be eased as a reward for the summit and that no “gifts” would be provided. Upon returning from Pyongyang on Tuesday, Chung had also stated that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un set no preconditions for the talks with Seoul, or possible dialogue with the US.
|President Moon and political leaders head to a dining room for lunch at Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday. (Yonhap)|
Regarding his decision to send the envoys, which was heavily criticized by conservative opposition parties, Moon said that that was the only way to hear Kim’s views. According to Seoul officials, the two sides had been in contact over the course of the past few weeks, and that South Korea’s position that military drills with the US and the goal of denuclearization cannot be abandoned were clearly conveyed.
Foreign Affairs Minister Kang Kyung-wha, meanwhile, said that she is certain of the US and North Korea’s willingness to engage each other.
“There wasn’t direct contact, but you know, in our discussions with each, we did ascertain that they are, both sides, willing to sit and discuss,” Kang said in an interview with Singapore’s Channel News Asia, referring to South Korea’s discussions with the US and North Korea ahead of the PyeongChang Olympics.
“And so the task now is how do you bring the two sides together.”
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com)