Breaking: South Korean president urges US’s Biden to engage directly with North Korea’s Kim
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has urged his American counterpart, Joe Biden, to initiate a new round of diplomacy with North Korea over its nuclear program, following unsuccessful engagement between Pyongyang and the former US administration that Seoul had brokered.
The South Korean leader put forth the idea in an interview with The New York Times published on Wednesday, emphasizing that Biden needed to engage directly with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and not delegate potential diplomacy to lower-level officials.
North Korea has been under rounds of sanctions by the United Nations (UN) and the United States over its nuclear and missile programs.
Former US President Donald Trump met with Kim three times but refused to offer Pyongyang any concessions in return for steps taken toward demilitarization.
That hampered further diplomacy and prompted the North Korean leader to announce an end to a moratorium on the country’s missile tests. Talks stopped in February 2019.
“The most important starting point for both governments is to have the will for dialogue and to sit down face to face at an early date,” the South Korean president told The New York Times.
“I hope that Biden will go down as a historic president that has achieved substantive and irreversible progress for the complete denuclearization and peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula,” Moon said.
He said although Pyongyang halted its nuclear and missile tests following Kim’s first official meeting with Trump in June 2018, Trump followed up poorly, and nothing more concrete was accomplished despite a second summit in February 2019.
Trump, the South Korean president said, “beat around the bush and failed to pull it through.”
“I believe that if we build on what President Trump has left, we will see this effort come to fruition under Biden’s leadership,” Moon said.
He also urged both Washington and Pyongyang to develop a “mutually trusted road map” toward the end goal of denuclearization and the removal of the harsh international sanctions on Pyongyang.
Last week, the White House announced that Biden and Moon were scheduled to meet in Washington next month to discuss bilateral relations and regional issues.
On Thursday, Noh Kyu-duk, South Korea’s special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, held a phone conversation with Sung Kim, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.
According to a statement by the South Korean Foreign Ministry, the top envoys agreed to continue close consultations at every level for a successful summit between Moon and Biden.
The Biden administration has yet to devise a clear policy toward Pyongyang, but experts predict it will likely continue the United States’ traditional hostility toward North Korea.
Last month, the US and South Korea held joint military exercises, infuriating North Korea, which considers the annual war games a rehearsal for invasion.
North Korea says its nuclear and missile capabilities are intended to defend the country against potential aggression by the United States, which has substantial military presence on the Korean Peninsula.
There are close to 30,000 US troops stationed in South Korea.