UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Tuesday negotiations with North Korea remain a viable option despite Pyongyang's recent tests of weapons systems and lack of response to calls for cooperation.
Moon, who last year said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had expressed his "firm willingness" to undertake denuclearization measures, suggested to the United Nations General Assembly that dismantlement remains an option.
"The negotiating table for peace on the Korean Peninsula still remains accessible," the South Korean leader said. "Not a single confrontation has occurred since the inter-Korean comprehensive military agreement was signed on Sept. 19 last year."
Moon, who did not address the multiple rounds of North Korea short-range missile tests, also credited Kim for shifting from a policy of complete isolation.
"Decisions made by President Trump and Chairman Kim provided the momentum behind the dramatic change in the situation on the Korean Peninsula," Moon said, giving credit to U.S. President Donald Trump.
On Monday, ahead of his speech, Moon told Trump during their summit he "marveled" at Trump's imagination and "bold decision-making."
The South Korean president also praised Trump for briefly visiting North Korea during a historic meeting with Kim at Panmunjom in June.
"These efforts have also made it possible for President Trump to become the first sitting American president to cross the Military Demarcation Line and set foot on North Korean soil," Moon said. "The easing of military tensions and solid trust among the leaders of both Koreas and the United States set the stage for a momentous trilateral meeting at Panmunjom."
"President Trump's action in taking Chairman Kim's hand and stepping over the Military Demarcation Line was, in itself, a declaration of the true beginning of a new era of peace."
Earlier on Tuesday at the U.N. Trump defended his North Korea policy, highlighting his "bold diplomacy."
"The United States has never believed in permanent enemies," Trump said. The president also said North Korea is "full of untapped [economic] potential," but that the regime must first denuclearize.
Moon argued on Tuesday the goal of denuclearization is close at hand -- North Korea has not shown interest in giving up its nuclear weapons.
"The two Koreas and the United States are setting their sights not only on denuclearization and peace, but also in the economic cooperation that will follow thereafter," he said.
North Korea has increased its criticism of South Korea in 2019, a reversal of the relatively friendly approach that defined inter-Korea relations in 2018. On Tuesday, North Korea's Ambassador to the U.N. Kim Song was not seen with other members of his delegation. The ambassador did attend Moon's speech last year; he was also present during Trump's speech in the morning.
Analysts have said North Korea has increasingly pushed away negotiations with the South as it pursues talks with the United States.
Those trends did not deter Moon on Tuesday, who said the Korean Peninsula should "evolve into a bridging nation that connects the continent and the ocean and facilitates peace and prosperity.
"The vision of an East Asian Railroad Community in which six Northeast Asian countries and the United States take part could also become reality," he said.
The South Korean leader also mentioned the ASEAN-South Korea Commemorative Summit to be held in Busan, South Korea, in November.
In Seoul on Tuesday South Korea's national intelligence service had said Kim could visit Busan for the ASEAN summit, according to local press reports.
Experts have said progress on denuclearization can only take place with a third U.S.-North Korea summit.
On Monday, Trump did not confirm a third U.S.-North Korea summit before the end of 2019, despite his "great relationship" with Kim.
"We'll see," he said during his summit with Moon.