Moon confers with Xi on summit, way ahead

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Moon confers with Xi on summit, way ahead

President Moon Jae-in and President Xi Jinping of China agreed to closely communicate and coordinate to declare an end to the 1950-53 Korean War and put in place a peace treaty during a phone conversation Friday.

China is one of the three signatories along with North Korea and the United Nations Command of the armistice on July 27, 1953, that halted the three-year conflict, leaving the two Koreas technically at war. At an April 27 summit, Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to “actively pursue trilateral meetings” involving the two Koreas and the United States or “quadrilateral meetings” that would also include China to declare an end to the war and put a peace treaty in place of the armistice.

During the 35-minute phone conversation, Moon explained to Xi the outcome of the April 27 summit and exchanged opinions on the way forward, the Blue House said Friday.

Xi relayed to Moon North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s commitment to denuclearization, which was also conveyed to Wang Yi, the Chinese foreign minister, during Kim’s meeting with Wang on Thursday in Pyongyang.

“President Xi told President Moon that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reaffirmed his strong resolution to denuclearize by taking measures such as the shutdown of the Punggye-ri nuclear testing site and improving inter-Korean relations during his meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi,” Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said in a press release.

Xi also noted North Korean leader Kim stated his strong desire to “put an end to this history of confrontation on the Korean Peninsula” during Kim’s meeting with Wang.

Xi said Moon played an “essential role” in opening inter-Korean summit talks and producing the Panmunjom Declaration.

Moon thanked Xi for his support for the inter-Korean summit and noted that Xi led momentum for the North’s denuclearization.

To work with Washington for an upcoming summit between Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump, Chung Eui-yong, head of the Blue House’s National Security Office, made an unannounced visit to Washington. Moon’s top security adviser landed in the U.S. capital on Thursday morning and is thought to have met with U.S. counterpart John Bolton ahead of the historic Pyongyang-Washington summit, for which a date and venue have yet to be determined.

Chung’s visit was made at the request of White House’s National Security Council, according to a senior presidential official who asked not to be named.

Chung’s visit has fueled speculation that he made the visit to coordinate with the White House over the Kim-Trump summit location amidst growing expectation that Panmunjom, where the April 27 inter-Korean summit was held, could be announced as the summit venue.

The Blue House remained tightlipped about Chung’s visit until Friday morning. It is Chung’s third visit to Washington in less than month since Bolton assumed office on April 9. Chung first met the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, known for his hard-line views on North Korea, on April 12 and met him again on April 24, three days before the inter-Korean summit.

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

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