South Korea's Moon urges Biden govt to follow up on Trump-Kim summit

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the inauguration of the Biden administration would provide a turning point to newly start US-North Korea dialogue, South-North dialogue.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the inauguration of the Biden administration would provide a turning point to newly start US-North Korea dialogue, South-North dialogue.PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (REUTERS) - South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Monday (Jan 18) that United States President-elect Joe Biden should hold talks with North Korea to build on progress that President Donald Trump had made with its leader Kim Jong Un.

Mr Biden takes office on Wednesday amid a prolonged stalemate in negotiations aimed at dismantling North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes in exchange for US sanctions relief.

Mr Moon, who had offered to be a mediator between Pyongyang and Washington, said he would seek an early chance to promote North Korea as Mr Biden's foreign policy priority so that he will follow through on an agreement reached by Mr Trump and Mr Kim at their first summit in Singapore.

The two leaders vowed to establish new relations and work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula in that joint statement, but their second summit in Hanoi and ensuing working-level talks fell apart.

"The inauguration of the Biden administration would provide a turning point to newly start US-North Korea dialogue, South-North dialogue, to inherit the achievements that were made under the Trump administration," Mr Moon told a New Year news conference.

"The dialogues can pick up the pace if we restart from the Singapore declaration and seek concrete measures in the negotiations."

Mr Kim vowed to beef up nuclear capabilities at the ruling Workers' Party's rare congress last week, and that pledge highlighted the need to reopen negotiations for a peace deal, Mr Moon said.

He said the issue of joint South Korea-US military drills, which Pyongyang has long condemned as a rehearsal for war, can be discussed by reviving an inter-Korean military panel.

He also called for a diplomatic solution with Japan to prevent the planned sale of Japanese corporate assets to compensate victims of forced labour, saying it would be "undesirable" for bilateral relations.

The two countries are at odds over legacies from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule, and some former labourers have secured a court order to seize domestic properties of Japanese firms.