President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday expressed hopes on meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the coming weeks, further fueling speculation surrounding inter-Korean and US-North Korea dialogue.
“I am prepared to meet Chairman Kim at any time. In the end, whether we meet, or setting the time of the meeting, is down to Chairman Kim’s choice,” Moon said at the Oslo Forum on Wednesday.
“President Trump is visiting Korea at the end of June, and if possible, meeting Chairman Kim before that would be desirable.”
President Moon Jae-in gives a speech at the Oslo Forum on Wednesday. Yonhap
A high-level Cheong Wa Dae official later elaborated that Seoul is in communication with Washington and Pyongyang over related matters through numerous channels.
US President Donald Trump is set to visit Seoul to meet with Moon at the end of the month, when he is to attend the Group of 20 Summit in Osaka, Japan.
While acknowledging that US-North Korea dialogue may appear to be in a deadlock since the Hanoi summit, Moon said that momentum for dialogue remains alive, citing Kim’s letter to Trump.
On Thursday, Moon elaborated on his comments from the previous day, saying an inter-Korean summit is “physically possible” as he and Kim have arranged a meeting on short notice before, but that he cannot be sure if a summit will be arranged.
On May 26 last year, Moon and Kim met on the North side of Panmunjom, just over a month after their first meeting at the border village on April 19.
At the time, Cheong Wa Dae announced the meeting after it had taken place.
Regarding Kim’s letter to Trump, Moon hinted at significant suggestions contained in the letter.
“The letter contains very interesting parts President Trump did not reveal,” Moon said, saying he had been informed about the letter’s contents by the US.
On Tuesday, Trump revealed that he had received a letter from Kim, describing it as “very personal, very warm, very nice,” and predicted “very positive” developments regarding North Korea.
Moon’s comment on a possible inter-Korean summit marked the first time the South Korean leader has put forward a time frame for the meeting he suggested in April.
On April 15, four days after his summit with Trump in Washington, Moon called for a fourth inter-Korean summit.
At the time, Moon said he and Trump agreed on the need for such a meeting, and that Trump had said he was willing to meet Kim for a third time.
Moon’s call for another inter-Korean summit was followed by foreign news reports that the South Korean president has a message for Kim from the US president.
Cheong Wa Dae did not confirm the reports, but said that any message Moon may have from Trump could be conveyed when the leaders of the two Koreas meet in person.
In his speech at the Oslo Forum, Moon stressed the need for perseverance and continuous effort in achieving peace, in an apparent attempt to downplay concerns over the outlook of the denuclearization process.
“Dialogue is showing signs of being deadlocked since the second North-US summit, but that is because time is needed to understand each other. It is the process of thawing the animosity of the past 70 years,” Moon said.
With both Pyongyang and Washington showing little sign of backing down, Moon also emphasized the importance of trust, echoing Trump’s repeated statements about his relationship with Kim.
Saying the current situation calls for “deeper understanding and trust” in each other rather than “new visions or declarations,” Moon said that Trump and Kim “continue to show trust in each other and the will for dialogue.”
Moon also hinted at seeking closer inter-Korean collaboration in areas not directly linked to economic issues, citing Norway’s efforts to cooperate with neighboring countries and the 1972 Basic Treaty between East and West Germany.
“It is important to peacefully resolve the structural violence arising from division (of the country) suffered by the people of South and North Koreas,” Moon said, referring to it as “peace for people.”
Citing the Basic Treaty, and the two Germanys’ cooperation in dealing with natural disasters and environmental issues, Moon said he hopes for similar measures to be applied on the Korean Peninsula.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)