Moon, Trump agree progress being made on North Korea

By Elizabeth Shim
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump during their summit talks at a New York hotel on Monday. Photo by Yonhap
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump during their summit talks at a New York hotel on Monday. Photo by Yonhap

NEW YORK, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivered a message from Kim Jong Un to U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday, confirming the North Korean leader's commitment to "complete denuclearization."

Moon, who is scheduled to deliver his speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, was meeting with Trump on the sidelines to brief him on his recent summit in Pyongyang with Kim, an event that has revived U.S.-North Korea talks.


Trump, who a few weeks earlier canceled U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's trip to North Korea, citing lack of progress on denuclearization, said Monday during a meeting with Moon a "second summit" with Kim is being planned in the "not too distant future."


"Mike Pompeo has been in touch with" the North Koreans, Trump said, adding there has been "tremendous enthusiasm" from Kim.

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"That's very good, we are in no rush," Trump said. "We've made more progress than anyone, ever."

The president also did not rule out economic cooperation with the North on Monday -- although Washington has remained firm on keeping economic sanctions in place.

"I believe North Korea has tremendous economic potential, and we will help them to that end, in some ways good, some ways extraordinary," he said. "Chairman Kim has been terrific."

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Moon told Trump that Kim had conveyed unwavering trust and expectations in him.

"You are indeed the only person who can solve this," the South Korean leader said.

Trump, Moon deserve equal recognition

But for analysts watching the summit, Moon has played a significant role in resolving issues with the North.

Frank Aum, a senior expert on North Korea at the United States Institute of Peace, told UPI on Monday the two leaders should be given roughly equal credit for breakthroughs on North Korea impasse.

Aum said improved relations are attributable to Trump's willingness to engage directly with Kim, and the president's maximum pressure campaign, which "tightened the economic vise on North Korea, and also caused North Korea and China to fear possible military action."


"Moon's persistent facilitation of dialogue between the two countries, and Kim's readiness to engage after having demonstrated a nuclear deterrent" with a sixth nuclear test were also factors, Aum said.

Tom Countryman, chairman of the Arms Control Association in Washington, D.C., said Trump's planned second summit would need to surpass the first summit in Singapore in preparation.

The first summit was "positive, in terms of establishing contact at the top level," Countryman told UPI on Monday.

He added "considerable amounts of work" would need to be tackled by Pompeo and Stephen Biegun, the new special envoy for North Korea at the State Department.

Aum, who also studies the U.S.-South Korea alliance, said both sides must make a decision by January on whether the annual spring military drills will proceed, as they did during the Obama years.

North Korea would need to take a major disarmament step by the end of the year to get the alliance to commit to continuing the suspension of major military exercises, Aum said.

Trump addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.

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