S. Korea's Moon will press on to engage North

South Korean soldiers stand at the southern side of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone.
South Korean soldiers stand at the southern side of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone.PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL • South Korean President Moon Jae-in said yesterday he remains committed to engaging with North Korea, and that cooperation on issues such as anti-epidemic work could help lead to a breakthrough in stalled talks in the last years of his term.

Seoul will make efforts to jump-start talks between the United States and North Korea as US President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office, Mr Moon said during his annual New Year's speech.

"Dialogue and co-prosperity are key drivers of the peace process on the Korean peninsula," he said. "Our will to meet any time, anywhere, and willingness to talk... remain unchanged."

Mr Moon, whose term ends next year, has made engagement with North Korea one of his signature goals, and he said he would liaise closely with Mr Biden's administration.

Talks aimed at convincing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and improve relations with the US and South Korea have been stalled, with Pyongyang accusing Seoul and Washington of maintaining hostile policies.

"We will strengthen the alliance with the US in line with the inauguration of the Biden administration, while making last-ditch efforts for a grand breakthrough in stalemated North Korea-US and inter-Korean talks," Mr Moon said.

At the weekend, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un blasted South Korea for offering cooperation on "inessential issues" such as the coronavirus, humanitarian aid and tourism.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2021, with the headline 'S. Korea's Moon will press on to engage North'. Print Edition | Subscribe