President Moon vows to step up deal broker role in denuclearization talks

04, Mar. 2019

SEOUL, AJU - South Korea's President Moon Jae-in refused to define incomplete denuclearization talks in Vietnam as diplomatic failure, vowing to step up his role as a deal broker so that U.S. and North Korean leaders would reach a higher level of agreement.

The second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made “meaningful” progress as they had lengthy conversations, enhanced mutual understanding and built more trust, Moon said in a speech marking the centennial anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement against Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule.

“I believe this is part of a process to reach a higher level of agreement. Now our role has become even more important, Moo said, adding Seoul would closely communicate and cooperate with Washington and Pyongyang to help them reach “a complete settlement by any means.”

Trump and Kim even discussed the issue of installing liaison offices, an important step toward the normalization of ties, Moon said.

Moon envisioned a new peace initiative called “the new Korean Peninsula regime” to create a new order of peace and cooperation with North Korea. “The new Korean Peninsula regime is a new community of economic cooperation that will be formed after the era of ideology and factionalism is put behind us. I will help usher in an era of a peace-driven economy on the Korean Peninsula.”

When there is progress in denuclearization, Moon said that an inter-Korean joint economic committee would be established to produce economic achievements.

Relations between South Korea and Japan remained soured, but Moon refrained from harsh criticism and promised to strengthen cooperation with Japan for the sake of peace on the Korean peninsula. “When Korea and Japan firmly join hands while reflecting on history, the era of peace will approach our side with large strides.”

South Korean and Japan will become genuine friends when the pain of colonial-era victims is substantively healed through concerted efforts, Moon said.

Ties between the two Asian neighbors have been in the doldrums for years, with South Korea insisting that Japan should apologize and make amends for abuses during its colonial rule. In particular, Seoul wants Tokyo to address the issue of women forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels.

The two U.S. allies have been locked a fresh diplomatic row that began on December 20 when Tokyo accused a South Korean destroyer of locking its fire-control radar on a Japanese maritime patrol plane in what it called a “dangerous” act. South Korea insisted the warship was involved in a humanitarian mission to rescue a North Korean ship in distress.

The South's defense ministry has accused Japanese patrol planes of flying close to South Korean warships.(Kyodo)