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Trump supportive of Kim’s visit to Seoul

Sanctions relief wasn’t discussed at leaders’ meeting in Argentina

Dec 03,2018
Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed during their meeting in Argentina that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s visit to Seoul will provide “additional momentum” to establish peace on the peninsula, according to the Blue House.

The two leaders held their sixth bilateral meeting since they took office on Friday on the sidelines of the Group of 20, a gathering of the leaders of the world’s largest economies, in Buenos Aires. Trump reiterated his commitment to holding a second summit with Kim early next year.

“President Trump reconfirmed his intention to hold the second North-U.S. summit early next year, calling for close South Korea-U.S. cooperation in order for the summit to be another historic milestone in the denuclearization process of the Korean Peninsula,” said Yoon Young-chan, the presidential secretary for public affairs, in a press briefing in Buenos Aires. “The two leaders agreed that Chairman Kim Jong-un’s visit to Seoul would provide additional momentum to their joint efforts to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

The two leaders also stressed the importance of maintaining existing sanctions on the North until its complete denuclearization, according to Yoon.

The White House released a statement that said that Moon and Trump “agreed on the importance of maintaining vigorous enforcement of existing sanctions to ensure the DPRK understands that denuclearization is the only path to economic prosperity and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.” The DPRK is an abbreviation of the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

However, a senior Blue House official said that the two leaders “did not go into detail” about easing sanctions on the North, which Pyongyang is pushing for.

Moon has repeatedly emphasized the need for Kim Jong-un to make a visit to Seoul within the year. According to a senior Blue House official, “The two leaders shared a definite consensus on this.” The fourth Moon-Kim summit was agreed upon in September during Moon’s Pyongyang visit.

Trump also lauded Moon’s efforts “to ease military tensions and create a friendly atmosphere conducive to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.”

“We are generally satisfied with the content of the summit,” a high-level Blue House official told reporters. “It was not just us. The United States was also satisfied.”

“The chemistry between the South Korean and U.S. leaders was good,” said the official. “It is likewise for the North Korean and U.S. leaders.”

Because these were leader-level talks with limited time, the official said “they didn’t discuss every minute detail but instead focused on the larger picture.”

The Korean official likewise remained optimistic that Kim Jong-un’s visit to Seoul will happen in the near future.

“If you look at his record for the past year, Chairman Kim always keeps his word,” the Blue House official said. “Even if the North Korean leader’s trip to Seoul does not happen this month, it will take place soon.

“President Moon is not the type of person who impatiently rushes,” he said. “The trip doesn’t have to happen within the year and will follow the flow.”

The official added that “The top-down approach is especially good. Unlike in the past, this method resolves issues.”

Moon and Trump also were said to have “shared the view that the North-U.S. summit should happen as soon as possible” and that “there will be further progress from the first summit.”

The official said that a ground-breaking ceremony for an inter-Korean railway project is also expected to happen within the year.

During his three-day trip to Argentina to attend the G-20 summit, Moon also held bilateral talks with Argentine President Mauricio Macri, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Moon departed for New Zealand, the last leg of his three-country overseas trip, on Sunday. Moon will meet with New Zealand’s Governor General Patsy Reddy and hold a summit with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during his three-day trip to the country.

BY KANG TAE-HWA, SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]


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