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Moon Jae-in asks for Vietnam's help in restarting North Korea dialogue

By Elizabeth Shim   |   July 15, 2021 at 9:20 AM
South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressed desire to resume diplomacy with North Korea during a phone call with Vietnam’s Nguyen Phu Trong Thursday. File Photo by Erin Scott/UPI

July 15 (UPI) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in requested Vietnam play a role in restarting North Korea dialogue during a phone call with Nguyen Phu Trong, the general secretary of Vietnam's Communist Party.

South Korea's presidential Blue House spokeswoman Park Kyung-mee said Thursday that the leaders of the two countries spoke for the first time since the inauguration of Trong to the leadership position in January, News 1 reported.

Moon congratulated Trong while Trong commended South Korea for attaining developed nation status as designated by the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, according to Yonhap. The upgrade in South Korea's status was formalized earlier this month.

The South Korean leader also raised the issue of North Korea; Moon's diplomacy with Pyongyang played a pivotal role in easing tensions between the North and the United States in 2018.

Moon reportedly thanked the Vietnamese government for providing a venue for the U.S.-North Korea summit in early 2019. Former U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un met for their second official summit in Hanoi in February of that year. Talks collapsed after the two sides could not reach an agreement on sanctions relief, however.

The South Korean president reportedly asked Vietnam to "play a role in promptly resuming dialogue with North Korea," the Blue House said.

Trong said in response that Vietnam "supports the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and dialogues for peaceful consultations."

Moon last met with Kim in June 2019 at the truce village of Panmunjom. North Korea has rejected the Moon's offers of dialogue since that time.

The South Korean president also mentioned the crackdown against Myanmar's pro-democracy protesters during the conversation.

Moon said he "looks forward to close communication" between Seoul and Hanoi on the situation in Myanmar. Trong reportedly said Vietnam will "continue to work for the restoration of peace and stability in Myanmar."

The United States said Wednesday in an address to ASEAN that "immediate action" should be taken on Myanmar, where COVID-19 deaths have been climbing amid ongoing unrest.