In this file photo taken on Sept. 24, 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in shake hands after signing a trade agreement at a bilateral meeting in New York, a day before the start of the General Debate of the 73rd session of the General Assembly. — AFP/Yonhap Photo
SEOUL — South Korea President Moon Jae-in will visit the United States this week for talks with President Donald Trump that will focus on ways to restart denucleariation negotiations with North Korea, officials from Seoul's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said on Tuesday.
Moon will head to Washington on Wednesday for his two-day visit. He and Trump will meet on Thursday (US time).
The scheduled meeting comes after Trump's second and latest summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was held in Hà Nội in late February and ended abruptly without a much anticipated nuclear agreement.
What once seemed to be unprecedented talks between Washington and Pyongyang on completely ridding the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons have since stalled with both sides now apparently looking to Seoul to help restart what has turned out to be an arduous and equally fragile process.
The whole process to denuclearise North Korea began after Moon held a historic inter-Korean summit with the North Korean leader in April 2018. The two have since met two more times, in May and September, with their latest summit held in Pyongyang.
On the same day his Hanoi meeting with Kim fell apart, Trump called Moon to ask for his help.
"While expressing disappointment over the failure to reach an agreement in the summit, President Trump reaffirmed his determination to resolve the issue through dialogue with North Korea in the future," Cheong Wa Dae said of the telephone conversation earlier.
"In addition, (Trump) asked President Moon to actively perform the role of a mediator that may entail talking with Chairman Kim and letting him know the outcome of his dialogue."
Moon and Trump have apparently decided they should talk first.
On top of the agenda for their talks will likely be how much they will give to North Korea.
Trump has said his second summit with Kim fell through largely because the North wanted international sanctions lifted "in their entirety, but we couldn't do that."
He has also said the sanctions should and will be maintained until Pyongyang fully denuclearises.
Moon, on the other hand, has stressed the need for some carrots in addition to sticks.
"I believe North Korea needs to take practical denuclearisation steps more boldly if it wishes to resolve the issue of international sanctions because the issue of international sanctions depends on the speed of North Korea's denuclearisation process," Moon said in his news conference for the new year held January 10.
"I believe corresponding measures too must be considered to further promote North Korea's denuclearisation process," he said.
Moon's upcoming talks with Trump will inevitably be followed by dialogue with the North Korean leader.
No schedule has been set for a fourth Moon-Kim summit, but the North Korean leader has promised to visit South Korea to reciprocate the South Korean leader's trip to Pyongyang last year.
Moon's chief security adviser Chung Eui-yong has also hinted at the possibility of Moon sending a special envoy to North Korea. — YONHAP