Monday, January 22 2018

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S. Korea’s Moon: denuclearisation is path to peace

Update: January, 10/2018 - 10:17
A man watches a television screen broadcasting live footage of South Korean President Moon Jae-In’s New Year’s speech, at a railway station in Seoul. – AFP/VNA Photo
Viet Nam News

SEOUL – Denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula is "the path to peace and our goal", South Korean President Moon Jae-In said on Wednesday, a day after the North agreed to send its athletes to the Winter Olympics in his country.

"We need to continue efforts to hold a peace Olympics," Moon told a press conference. "We need to peacefully resolve North Korea’s nuclear issue."

Delegates from North and South Korea held their first official talks for two years on Tuesday at Panmunjom in the Demilitarised Zone that has divided the peninsula for decades.

Pyongyang boycotted the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, but they agreed that this time the North would send athletes and officials to the Games, which begin in Pyeongchang next month.

Tensions over North Korea’s weapons programmes have heightened in recent months, with Pyongyang launching missiles capable of reaching the US mainland and detonating by far its most powerful nuclear device to date.

But Moon said: "I will clear away the anxiety and distrust that have become deeply rooted in the lives of the people.

"Step by step, together with the people, I will create a peaceful and stable life free of worries about war."

He would be willing to meet the North’s leadership if the conditions were right, he told his second press conference as head of state.

"Under the right conditions, I can hold a summit at any time," he said.

"But it cannot be a meeting for meeting’s sake. To hold a summit, the right conditions must be created and certain outcomes must be guaranteed."

Moon has long supported engagement with the North to bring it to the negotiating table over its banned weapons programmes, which have alarmed the US and the global community, and seen Pyongyang subjected to multiple sets of United Nations sanctions.

But the US has said that it must stop nuclear tests for talks with Washington to take place.

"We have no difference in opinion with the US," Moon insisted. "The United States has shown complete support for inter-Korean talks and expressed hopes to the South that it will help with resolving North Korea’s nuclear issue."

On Tuesday Seoul also said it would not seek to renegotiate a controversial 2015 agreement with Japan over wartime sex slavery, an issue that still colours relations between the two countries, both of them US allies threatened by Pyongyang.

On the campaign trail Moon had said he "could not accept" the deal, but Seoul said this week it had to recognise it had been agreed to by both governments.

"The issue of comfort women can only be fully resolved by the grandmothers’ forgiveness of Japan when Japan acknowledges the truth and offers a sincere apology to the victims," Moon said. – AFP

 

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