South Korea's Moon Jae-in: 'We cannot go on like this'

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |  Dec. 6, 2017 at 1:42 PM
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Dec. 6 (UPI) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in said dialogue between North and South Korea is expected to begin in the near future, despite ongoing tensions following Pyongyang's test of a long-range missile, the Hwasong-15.

Moon, who assumed office in May, and ran on a campaign platform of reconciliation with North Korea, said dialogue will ease the tense standoff at the border, Money Today reported.

"In North-South relations, two kinds of dialogue are expected to begin," Moon said Wednesday, before a gathering of local religious leaders. "The first is a dialogue to resolve the North Korea nuclear issue, and the other is for the improvement of inter-Korea relations."

The president also said as North Korea's nuclear issue becomes a focal point in relations between Washington and Pyongyang, North Korea's nuclear weapons are frustrating efforts for dialogue between the two Koreas.

"Tensions at present are rising to a peak, but we cannot go on like this," Moon said. "It is only a matter of time before tensions are resolved."

Moon also voiced concerns about the upcoming Winter Olympics, to be held in South Korea in 2018.

He said the event could provide a new channel of conversation.

"If North Korea takes part in Pyeongchang, a dialogue in the sports area could take place. A dialogue at the provincial level in Gangwon could also be held," he said.

Gangwon Province is the only region on the peninsula divided between the two Koreas.

High hopes for reconciliation, however, are being blocked in South Korea's national assembly.

Both ruling and opposition party lawmakers are opposed to the idea of giving North Korea aid exceeding $910 million with no strings attached, following Pyongyang's recent provocation, News 1 reported Wednesday.

The budgeted amount stands at $875 million, same as in 2017, according to the report.

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