Sanctions on N Korea to stay as South’s leader Moon urges cautious optimism about talks
Next month, North Korea and South Korea will have the first meeting between their leaders since 2007 at the border village of Panmunjeom
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said on Wednesday sanctions on North Korea will not be eased for the sake of a summit with Pyongyang, as China urged both sides to “seize the current opportunity” to promote the denuclearisation of the peninsula.
In the first meeting of its kind, South Korean officials who met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Monday said he expressed his willingness to denuclearise the Korean peninsula if his country’s security is assured.
Next month, North Korea and South Korea will have the first meeting between their leaders since 2007 at the border village of Panmunjeom, said Chung Eui-yong, head of the South Korean delegation.
US President Donald Trump said North Korea seems “sincere” in its apparent willingness to halt nuclear tests if it held denuclearisation talks with the United States.
“From looking at the news or Twitter, I believe President Trump is positive about the results of the North Korea visit [by South Korean officials],” said Moon at a lunch meeting with political party leaders on Wednesday.
“However, as this is just the beginning, I believe we are not at a situation yet where we can be optimistic.”
Moon added he has no plans to ease sanctions against the North just for the sake of a summit with Pyongyang, Shin Yong-hyun of opposition Bareun Mirae Party told a briefing.
“The president said just because talks have begun doesn’t mean sanctions pressure will be eased or lifted. There will not be any ‘presents’ for the North, either,” said Shin.
South Korea’s goal is the denuclearisation of North Korea, said Moon in comments distributed by the Blue House.
“We cannot have things like the prevention of nuclear proliferation or a moratorium as a final goal,” said Moon.
Leaders around the world have also met the apparent breakthrough with guarded optimism, wary of repeating past negotiations that failed to prevent Pyongyang from developing nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
A six-year long effort by half a dozen of the world’s largest countries ended in failure in 2009.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said it was “extremely important” that North Korea show its commitment and concrete actions toward abandonment of its nuclear missile development in a complete, verifiable and irreversible way.
South Korean officials who met the North Korean leader, including Chung, will depart for Washington on Thursday.
Chung said he had a message from Kim Jong-un that he will relay to US officials but it was unclear whether he would meet with Trump.
After returning from the United States, Chung will visit China and Russia, while Suh Hoon, the head of South Korea’s intelligence agency, will head to Japan to brief officials on the latest detente with North Korea.
China on Tuesday encouraged North and South Korea to continue reconciliation efforts.
“We hope that the DPRK and the ROK can earnestly implement the relevant consensus and continue with their efforts to advance reconciliation and cooperation,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in the statement, using the acronyms of the North and South.
“We hope that all relevant parties can seize the current opportunity, work for the shared goal and make concerted efforts to promote the process of denuclearisation of the Peninsula and politically resolving the Korean Peninsula issue,” Geng said.
“China is willing to continue to play its due role to this end.”
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse