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Kim Jong-un

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un calls for more peace talks with South’s Moon Jae-in in letter

  • Kim also said he regretted not visiting Seoul by the end of the year, as promised in September
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 December, 2018, 5:08pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 December, 2018, 9:29pm

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent a letter to South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Sunday calling for more peace talks between the leaders in the new year following their active engagement in 2018.

Moon described the letter as “warmly-worded” and thanked Kim for it in a Facebook post. Moon said the North Korean leader noted that the two Koreas have escaped from the danger of war and “established ties of harmony and trust that are irreversible”.

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“[Kim] has expressed his willingness to actively carry out agreements reached at the inter-Korean summits and the US-North Korea summit,” Moon continued.

“Chairman Kim said he wants to meet [with me] frequently in the new year again in order to discuss practical issues related with peace and prosperity and the issue of denuclearisation. I heartily welcome this.”

While the Blue House did not fully disclose Kim’s letter, Moon’s spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said Kim Jong-un expressed regret that he could not make a planned visit to Seoul, South Korea’s capital, by the end of December as pledged by the leaders during their last summit in September in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.

Through three summits between Moon and Kim this year, the Koreas agreed to a variety of goodwill gestures and vowed to resume economic cooperation when possible, voicing optimism that international sanctions could end to allow such activity.

The rivals have also taken steps to reduce their conventional military threat, such as removing mines and firearms from the border village of Panmunjom, destroying some front-line guard posts and creating buffer zones along their land and sea boundaries and a no-fly zone above the border.

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“Chairman Kim said the leaders by meeting three times in a single year and implementing bold measures to overcome the long period of conflict lifted our nation from military tension and war fears,” Moon’s spokesman Kim said in a televised briefing.

“Chairman Kim said he will keep a close eye on the situation and expressed strong will to visit Seoul.”

Moon, in his Facebook post, said Seoul welcomed Kim’s trip.

“There will be a lot of difficulties going forward. But our hearts will be opened to each other depending on how much effort we make,” Moon said.

The letter came days before Kim Jong-un is expected to address North Koreans in a new year’s speech that North Korean leaders traditionally use to announce major policy decisions and goals.

Kim used his new year’s speech a year ago to initiate diplomacy with Seoul and Washington, which led to his meetings with Moon and a historic June summit with President Donald Trump. In his meetings with Moon and Trump, Kim signed on to vague statements calling for a nuclear-free Korean peninsula without describing when or how it would occur.

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Post-summit nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang quickly settled into a stalemate as the countries struggled between the sequencing of the North’s disarmament and the removal of US-led international sanctions against the North. There continue to be doubts about whether Kim will voluntarily relinquish his nukes, which he may see as his strongest guarantee of survival.

Additional reporting by Park Chan-kyong