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Moon: It’s time to talk with North Korea

President Moon Jae-in speaks at a weekly Cabinet meeting at Cheong Wa Dae on Tuesday. (Cheong Wa Dae)
President Moon Jae-in speaks at a weekly Cabinet meeting at Cheong Wa Dae on Tuesday. (Cheong Wa Dae)

President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday reaffirmed his will to restore the collapsed diplomacy with North Korea in marking the third anniversary of his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“The Panmunjeom Declaration is a milestone for peace that no one can undermine,” he said during a weekly Cabinet meeting, referring to the landmark deal that was signed by the two leaders on April 27, 2018. “The path for peace, promised in the declaration, should not be reversed under any circumstances.”

The inter-Korean summit was a first of its kind in 11 years. The leaders signed the deal at the truce border village of Panmunjeom, pledging their commitments to the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula, along with concrete steps to stop hostile activities against each other. They met two more times that year.

Taking advantage of the momentum, Moon also mediated the first-ever meeting between Kim and former US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June 2018.

The peaceful mood, however, didn’t last long after the two failed to reach an agreement in the second summit in Hanoi 2019, chilling the inter-Korean relations as well.

Since then, the North has not responded to the South’s diplomatic overtures, escalating tensions with multiple missile tests. But Moon stressed that the security on the Peninsula has been well managed compared to any other time.

“The current peace is incomplete,” he said. “We should move toward a permanent peace on the foundation of the Panmunjeom Declaration.”

The president, who is heading to Washington next month to hold a summit with US President Joe Biden, noted that the upcoming meeting could serve as a turning point in the stalled denuclearization talks.

With the new US security team wrapping up their monthslong policy review on North Korea, the two leaders had earlier agreed to set out a joint strategy in dealing with a more defiant North Korea.

“Our government is seeking ways to advance the Korean Peninsula Peace Process based on the strong partnership with the Biden administration. We hope (the summit) could pave the way for the talks between the two Koreas and the US and North Korea,” he added.

Moon is nearing his final year in office. On May 10, the fourth anniversary of his presidency, he is expected to deliver new messages to North Korea and the US, possibly urging both sides to sit down together for dialogue. 

By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)
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