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South Korea's Moon hopes Biden summit will kickstart North Korea dialogue

South Korea's Moon hopes Biden summit will kickstart North Korea dialogue
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake hands in front of the Military Demarcation Line at the Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone in the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, on April 27, 2018. It was the first time a North Korean leader had crossed the border since the Korean War. File Photo by Inter-Korean Summit Press Corps/UPI | License Photo

SEOUL, April 27 (UPI) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Tuesday he anticipates that his meeting next month with U.S. President Joe Biden will get a stalled peace process with North Korea back on track.

Moon made the remarks on the third anniversary of his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the border village of Panmunjom in the DMZ, which featured a historic handshake by the two leaders.

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The meeting resulted in the Panmunjom Declaration, an agreement that promised to ease military tensions while working toward denuclearizing and unifying the Korean Peninsula.

"We hope that the summit, scheduled for late May, will further strengthen the ROK-U.S. alliance and serve as an opportunity to closely coordinate North Korea policy and establish a direction for development," Moon said during a Cabinet meeting Tuesday. The Republic of Korea is the official name of South Korea.

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The South Korean president, whose opportunities for a breakthrough with Pyongyang are dwindling as he serves out the final year of his term, said the 2018 declaration has lasting value and has kept the situation on the Korean Peninsula more stable than it was before.

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"The Panmunjom Declaration is a milestone of peace that no one can alter," Moon said. "The path of peace promised by the declaration cannot be reversed under any circumstances."

The Panmunjom meeting led to another pair of summits between the two leaders and laid the groundwork for the historic talks between Kim and then-U.S. President Donald Trump.

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However, nuclear negotiations between the United States and North Korea stalled after a Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February 2019 ended without an agreement. Pyongyang had been seeking concessions such as the easing of international sanctions in exchange for taking steps toward dismantling its nuclear arsenal, while Washington held firm on complete denuclearization first.

North Korea also cut off all direct communications with the South last June and destroyed a shared inter-Korean liaison office in its border city of Kaesong.

Moon said that despite the series of diplomatic setbacks, the Panmunjom Declaration should be revisited and built upon.

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"Peace continues even in the midst of a crisis," Moon said. "However, the peace is an unfinished peace ... Now is the time to end a long time of contemplation and start the conversation again."

The South Korean president said that working with the Biden administration offers a fresh opportunity to rekindle dialogue on the peninsula.

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"Our government seeks to find a way to advance the peace process on the Korean Peninsula based on solid cooperation with the Biden government," Moon said. "We hope that dialogue between the two Koreas and between North Korea and the United States can be restored and a channel of cooperation can be opened."

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The Biden administration is conducting a review of its North Korea policy, which is expected to be concluded soon.

Moments from historic Korea summit at Panmunjom

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake hands in front of the Military Demarcation Line at the Joint Security Area on the Demilitarized Zone in the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, on Friday. It was the first time a North Korean leader had crossed the border since the Korean War. | License Photo

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