By Song Baleun and Kim Minji
The Moon administration seeks to expedite further dialogue and act as a mediator between North Korea and the U.S. in the wake of their disappointing summit in Hanoi, Vietnam.
President Moon Jae-in on March 4 chaired the first meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) in nine months to review the outcome of the Hanoi summit and follow-up measures.
“We hope that the two sides (North Korea and U.S.) will continue dialogue and that both of their leaders reach a settlement that was delayed this time by resuming talks as early as possible. Our role has again become significant in the process,” the president said.
“The second North Korea-United States summit was an opportunity to confirm crucial achievements made thus far through dialogue between the two sides.”
He also referred to as “major progress” the discussion by Pyeongyang and Washington on dismantlement of the North’s Yeongbyeon nuclear complex, removal of economic sanctions and the setup of a U.S. liaison office in the North.
The president mentioned that U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un neither escalated tension nor blamed each other despite failing to reach an agreement, adding, “Both leaders expressed unwavering mutual trust and made clear their intent to reach a settlement by resuming talks and continuing dialogue.”
President Moon also urged each ministry to draw up measures to faciliate talks between the North and the U.S.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said her ministry will pursue the so-called 1.5 track dialogue of government officials and private sector experts, a meeting held by the three countries in Sweden before the Hanoi summit.
Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said inter-Korean military talks slated for this month will seek to carry out the Agreement on the Implementation of the Historic Panmunjeom Declaration in the Military Domain, which was signed last year on Sept. 19 by both Koreas.
This accord covers two main points: maintenance of military readiness and deterrence while supporting methods to alleviate inter-Korean tension and preparation for a modified system of operational control on the Korean Peninsula.
Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said he will prepare talks with the U.S. on restarting the inter-Korean industrial complex in the North’s border city of Gaeseong and tours to the scenic Geumgangsan Mountain.
President Moon said, “I also ask that you make concerted efforts to help them (North Korea and U.S.) resume working-level talks as soon as possible,” adding, “I urge you to proceed in a speedy manner with inter-Korean cooperation projects as agreed in the Panmunjeom Declaration and the Pyeongyang Joint Declaration.”