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Moon will talk nukes during overseas jaunt

Nov 24,2018
South Korean President Moon Jae-in will pitch his views on North Korea’s denuclearization to a host of world leaders after he leaves for an eight-day trip to the Czech Republic, Argentina and New Zealand next week.

Moon will depart on Nov. 27 and will first land in the Czech Republic and then head to Buenos Aires for the G-20 summit. At the G-20, Moon is expected to focus on the importance of carrying out North Korea’s denuclearization in a peaceful manner.

The North and the United States appear to be locked in a stalemate in their negotiations.

Since top U.S. diplomat Mike Pompeo’s scheduled meeting with his North Korean counterpart Kim Yong-chol in New York was abruptly canceled at the last minute, there has been no update on bilateral negotiations.

Analysts are focusing on the words Moon will use as he calls for breakthrough in the stalled talks, especially during his expected meeting with U.S. President Trump, who will attend the G-20 summit.

In his last trip overseas this month, Moon subtly changed his language on North Korea. Instead of calling for possible sanctions relief once the North has reached the “irreversible stage” of denuclearization, he focused on international cooperation to achieve the peaceful denuclearization of the North.

Moon sidestepped talk of sanctions relief for the North, which was in stark contrast to what he said during his meeting with President Emmanuel Macron of France on Oct. 15 in Paris. During that meeting, Moon stressed that easing UN sanctions could facilitate the North’s denuclearization process.

Moon will arrive in the Czech Republic on Nov. 27 and leave the next day after meeting with Prime Minister Andrej Babis. In Buenos Aires, the second leg of the trip, Moon will have a summit with Argentine President Mauricio Macri, which will be the first South Korean-Argentine summit in 14 years.

From Dec. 2 to 4, Moon will travel to New Zealand on a state visit to meet Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Dame Patsy Reddy.

Moon’s upcoming trip comes after the announcement that Seoul and Washington will scale back the annual Foal Eagle joint military drill next spring in consideration of ongoing diplomatic efforts with the North.

This move could help move Pyongyang and Washington closer to the negotiation table on discussions for a second North-U.S. summit early next year. South Korea and the United States have suspended several major joint exercises this year following the June 12 North Korea-U.S. summit, including the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian drills, which would have happened in August.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]


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