Moon suggests Biden starts with Singapore statement in approaching relations with N. Korea

Posted on : 2021-01-19 18:38 KST Modified on : 2021-01-19 18:38 KST
S. Korean president emphasizes cooperation with US during New Year’s press conference
South Korean President Moon Jae-in gives a New Year’s press conference at the Blue House on Jan. 18.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in gives a New Year’s press conference at the Blue House on Jan. 18.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in proposed that US President-elect Joe Biden should adopt the statement from a 2018 North Korea-US summit in Singapore as a starting point for resuming dialogue with Pyongyang ahead of Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. He also shared his hope of holding a South Korea-US summit in the near future and reaffirming the two sides’ agreement on the Korean Peninsula peace process.

“The launch of a new US administration under Biden provides us with a turning point for starting North Korea-US and inter-Korean dialogue anew,” Moon said in a New Year’s press conference at the Blue House on Jan. 18.

“That dialogue needs to carry on from and develop the achievements made by the [Donald] Trump administration,” he urged. As a starting point for resuming North Korea-US dialogue, Moon pointed to the Singapore Joint Statement agreed upon at the first North Korea-US summit in June 2018. He also said that the best approach to dialogue would be a “step-by-step” blueprint.

“By starting over from the Singapore Statement and proceeding with dialogue and negotiations to develop more concrete plans, we can achieve North Korea-US dialogue and inter-Korean dialogue more quickly,” he suggested. Once dialogue begins, negotiations should follow an approach of “step-by-step progress” with a “give-and-take to match the other side’s pace,” he added. In their Singapore Joint Statement, the North Korean and US leaders pledged exchanging Pyongyang’s commitment to “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” for the “development of new US-DPRK relations.”

In practical terms, Moon called for the “swifter realization of interchange between the South Korea-US leaders,” adding that he “hope[s] to reaffirm [the US’] agreement on the Korean Peninsula peace process.” While the South Korean presidents typically hold their first summit with a newly inaugurated US president around May or June, Moon’s message was that he hopes to hold one much sooner.

Moon also commented on the South Korea-US joint military exercises scheduled for March, which have emerged as a focus of major interest.

“The matter of South Korea-US joint exercises is one that can be discussed within the framework of the Korean Peninsula peace process, which is largely about denuclearization and the establishment of peace,” he stressed, adding that Seoul could “also hold discussions with North Korea through the Inter-Korean Joint Military Committee.”

Moon’s remarks suggested that inter-Korean military authorities should hold discussions on the South Korea-US exercises in order to break inter-Korean dialogue out of its current lull. At the same time, he strongly implied that the exercises would indeed go ahead, referring to them as “regular exercises for defensive purposes.”

By Kim Ji-eun, staff reporter

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