Moon Jae-in backs third Trump-Kim summit

South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaking to visiting editors from Asia News Network, including Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez (centre), at the presidential Blue House in Seoul yesterday. Noting that United States President Donald Trump and
South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaking to visiting editors from Asia News Network, including Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez (centre), at the presidential Blue House in Seoul yesterday. Noting that United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have both committed to continuing their dialogue, Mr Moon said this offered hope that prospects were good for another summit.PHOTO: BLUE HOUSE

South Korea leader pledges to boost efforts to bring US, N. Korea together in nuclear talks

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has pledged to keep up his efforts to bring the United States and North Korea together to strive towards denuclearising the Korean peninsula.

He said he would pursue further talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and do his best to push for a third summit between US President Donald Trump and Mr Kim.

Noting that Mr Kim had recently embarked on several diplomatic initiatives, such as his ongoing summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr Moon said these were welcome moves and that he would push for further diplomacy and dialogue once the North Korean leader was ready for this.

"I know that the world was disappointed with the lack of any concrete agreement at the summit in Hanoi," Mr Moon told a group of visiting editors from Asia News Network (ANN) - a regional grouping of 24 media organisations - who are in Seoul for their annual board meeting and celebrations to mark the group's 20th anniversary.

But, he added: "We have seen remarkable changes in the last year. Just 18 months ago, there was much tension on the peninsula and genuine concern about the outbreak of war.

"Today, military tensions have been reduced significantly."

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I know that the world was disappointed with the lack of any concrete agreement at the summit in Hanoi... We have seen remarkable changes in the last year. Just 18 months ago, there was much tension on the peninsula and genuine concern about the outbreak of war... Today, military tensions have been reduced significantly.

SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT MOON JAE-IN

Mr Moon was named the Asian Person of the Year last year by ANN, in recognition of his efforts to bring the US and North Korea together to defuse the escalating war of words between the two sides.

After three summits between the South and the North as well as two Trump-Kim summits, tensions have lessened and the possibility of peace and denuclearisation through dialogue is within reach, he said.

Mr Moon made these remarks even as Mr Kim was going about his state visit in Russia, where reports say Mr Putin is expected to push for a restart of the six-party talks aimed at a peaceful resolution to North Korea's weapons programme.

Mr Kim's trip to Russia and his previous visits to China to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping are seen by analysts as attempts to shore up support as he continues his personal diplomacy with Mr Moon and Mr Trump.

Pointing out that both the North Korean and US leaders have committed to continuing their dialogue, Mr Moon went on to say this offered hope that prospects were good for another summit. South Korea, he said, would be ready for more talks, and would "strive to make this third summit a successful one".

 
 
 
 

Mr Moon, who met the editors over tea in the chandeliered meeting hall of the presidential Blue House, took questions from them after delivering prepared remarks, thanking them for the honour that ANN had bestowed on him, and also for their efforts to enhance understanding between South Korea and Asean, as well as the rest of Asia.

Taking up a question on whether Mr Kim might be invited to join in the Korea-Asean summit in November, Mr Moon noted that this had been proposed by Indonesian President Joko Widodo and found the support of several leaders.

A decision on whether to extend such an invitation would have to be made in consultation with Asean countries, while also taking into account the prevailing circumstances on the Korean peninsula, he added.

Responding to a question on moves to improve gender equality in his country, the President said he wished he could do more.

Right now, the opposition in South Korea is stronger than the ruling party in some ways, he said, but his government will continue with reforms that have been initiated, although this would require the help of the politicians and people of South Korea.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2019, with the headline 'Moon backs third Trump-Kim summit'. Print Edition | Subscribe