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Moon Jae-in on North Korea policy: 'Small tasks to be pursued relentlessly'

Moon Jae-in on North Korea policy: 'Small tasks to be pursued relentlessly'
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met for the first time at a historic summit in Panmunjom on April 27, 2018. File Photo by Inter-Korean Summit Press Corps/UPI | License Photo

April 27 (UPI) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in confirmed his commitment to improving relations with Pyongyang as the number of new COVID-19 cases subsides in his country.

Moon, who met with Kim Jong Un at a historic summit at Panmunjom on April 27, 2018, said at a meeting of aides at his office the two-year anniversary is an occasion to push forward with the future of a "peace economy," News 1 reported Monday.

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"The COVID-19 crisis could be a new opportunity for inter-Korea cooperation," Moon said, according to the report.

Moon has previously proposed cooperation with the North in the health sector, but Pyongyang never responded to the offer. North Korea has claimed there are zero cases of COVID-19 in the country. On Monday, Beijing said medical assistance, including test kits, were sent to the North.

RELATED China dispatches COVID-19 test kits to North Korea

The South Korean leader did not fault Seoul's policy on Monday.

"The reason we were not able to speed up the implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration was ultimately not because of our lack of will," Moon said. "Rather, it is because we were unable to overcome international limitations present in reality."

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The president also said even "small tasks must be pursued relentlessly."

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Moon's Democratic Party won a landslide victory in April general elections, increasing the chances the president can pursue a variety of pro-engagement policies with parliamentary support, including connecting a railroad between the two Koreas, promoting the DMZ as an "international peace zone," and joint excavation of Korean War-era remains with the North.

Moon's party said Monday the present is a "special opportunity" to improve inter-Korea ties, Newsis reported.

"We will continue to work toward a peace settlement, on the occasion of the second anniversary of the April 27 Panmunjom Declaration," said Kang Hoon-shik, a spokesman for the Democratic Party.

RELATED South Korea pursues inter-Korea railway project

South Korean conservatives said Monday North Korea ultimately sought talks with the South to pursue dialogue with the United States and demand sanctions relief, according to Newsis.

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