South Korea's President Moon Jae In says 'too early' for Pyongyang summit

South Korea's President Moon Jae In last week received an invitation from the North's leader Kim Jong Un for a summit in Pyongyang.
South Korea's President Moon Jae In last week received an invitation from the North's leader Kim Jong Un for a summit in Pyongyang.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AFP) - South Korea's President Moon Jae In on Saturday (Feb 17) said it was too early to think about a summit with North Korea despite the Olympic-driven rapprochement with its nuclear-armed neighbour.

Moon last week received an invitation from the North's leader Kim Jong Un for a summit in Pyongyang. The invitation was extended by his younger sister Kim Yo Jong, who visited as part of a high-level delegation to attend the Winter Games in the South.

"There are high hopes for a North-South summit but I think it is a bit rushed," Moon told reporters in Pyeongchang during a visit to the main press centre.

"We have a Korean saying (on acting prematurely), which is 'looking for hot water beside the well'," he added.

The North is subject to multiple sets of United Nations Security Council sanctions over its banned nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and conducted dozens of weapons test last year.

But the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang have seen Moon and Kim's younger sister cheering a unified Korean women's ice hockey team, enjoying a concert and dining together.

However Moon said the so-called "Peace Olympics" have highlighted the need for engagement between Washington and Pyongyang.

"The general consensus on the need for dialogue between the US and North Korea is gradually increasing," he said.

"We are waiting for the current inter-Korean talks to lead to dialogue between the US and North Korea, and to denuclearisation."

Washington insists that Pyongyang must take concrete steps towards denuclearisation before any talks can begin, while Moon has long argued for closer involvement to bring it to the negotiating table.