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South Korea’s Moon to prioritise denuclearisation talks

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South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in (right) hugs North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un after their second summit on May 26. aFP

South Korea’s Moon to prioritise denuclearisation talks

Denuclearisation will be high on the agenda for this week’s inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Monday.

Moon will fly to the North Korean capital on Tuesday for the latest stage in a diplomatic thaw on the peninsula, although progress has stalled in denuclearisation talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

“I plan to hold frank talks with Chairman Kim Jong Un on ways to find a point of compromise between the US demand for denuclearisation and the North’s demand for ending hostile relations,” he added.

Moon, who met Kim in April and May this year, was instrumental in brokering the historic Singapore summit between US President Donald Trump and Kim in June, when Kim backed denuclearisation of the “Korean peninsula”.

But no details were agreed, and Washington and Pyongyang have sparred since over what that means and how it will be achieved.

The dovish South Korean leader will try to close the gap between the US and the North, according to Moon’s chief of staff Im Jong-seok.

Moon is due to fly to New York later this month to attend the UN General Assembly, where he is expected to meet Trump.

Moon will hold at least two formal meetings with Kim, who may make a rare appearance at the airport to welcome his guests, the chief of staff said.

The South’s president is also scheduled to visit key sites in the North’s capital with his delegation, which includes tycoons Lee Jae-yong – the heir to the Samsung group – and the vice chairman of Hyundai Motor.

Moon has been pushing inter-Korean economic co-operation but several South Korean newspapers urged caution Monday, with the Korea Herald calling the businessmen’s presence on the trip “untimely”.

“It is better to postpone economic projects involving the North until after negotiations to remove its nuclear program make substantial progress,” it said in an editorial.

Other issues on Moon’s agenda will be improving inter-Korean ties and easing military tensions on the peninsula. Seoul said this could lay the groundwork for a declaration on the Korean War.

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