Summit gained in significanceThe Blue House said Wednesday the significance of the summit next month between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had become “more important in breaking an impasse” in denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington, making clear its commitment to stay the course on the third Moon-Kim meeting.
“As I said yesterday, I think the role of the South-North summit has gotten more important in breaking an impasse in the North-U.S. talks [on denuclearization],” said Kim Eui-kyeom, the Blue House spokesman at a regular press briefing.
Kim was repudiating media reports that the inter-Korean summit in the North Korean capital next month could be adversely affected by the impasse between Pyongyang and Washington after U.S. President Donald Trump called off his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s planned trip to Pyongyang this week, blaming insufficient progress in denuclearization.
Despite setbacks, the Blue House spokesman said he expected the resolve of Trump and Kim to achieve the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of a permanent peace regime to “remain intact.”
“Against this backdrop, I think expectations that the two leaders [Trump and Kim] place on President Moon have only heightened,” the spokesman said, referring to Moon’s role as a mediator between Kim and Trump. A date for Moon’s summit with Kim has yet to be confirmed.
And although the Blue House insists that the third Moon-Kim meeting will happen, there have been no high-level talks between the two Koreas to prepare for it since Aug. 13.
The two Koreas were expected to confirm a summit date following Pompeo’s fourth visit to Pyongyang this week. After the top U.S. diplomat’s trip was canceled, it’s not known when a date may be set.
With North Korea and the U.S. in gridlock, Moon hopes to continue his role as a mediator to help the two find a middle ground, the same role that led to the first meeting between a North Korean leader and a sitting U.S. president.
It remains to be seen whether he can pull off another such success.
Pyongyang has demanded Washington agree to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in truce, not a peace treaty, in return for denuclearization steps it takes. Washington is asking Pyongyang to take denuclearization steps first, such as compiling a listing of nuclear stockpiles and related facilities.
The U.S. State Department said Monday it was not opposed to Moon meeting Kim next month, citing Moon’s past remarks about the importance of ridding the North of nuclear weapons.
“No,” answered Heather Nauert, the State Department spokesperson, when asked if she would call on Moon to cancel the meeting given the lack of progress in denuclearization talks, adding, “President Moon has said in the past, that those things [denuclearization] have to take place. … He’s been very clear about that.”
BY KANG JIN-KYU [firstname.lastname@example.org]