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South's Moon Hopes to Restart N. Korean Diplomacy with Biden

South's Moon Hopes to Restart N. Korean Diplomacy with Biden

Monday, 10 May, 2021 - 07:45
South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaks during an online New Year news conference with local and foreign journalists at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, January 18, 2021. Jeon Heon-Kyun/Pool via REUTERS

South Korea’s leader said Monday he’ll use his upcoming summit with President Joe Biden to push to restart diplomacy with North Korea, saying that the US has opted for a diplomatic, phased approach to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis.

The White House recently said officials completed a review of North Korea policy and suggested the Biden administration would seek a middle ground between Donald Trump’s “grand bargain” and Barack Obama’s “strategic patience” approaches as a way to curb the North’s nuclear ambitions.

In a nationally televised news conference, President Moon Jae-in said he welcomes the direction of the Biden administration’s North Korea policy, which he said was finalized after consultations with South Korea.

Moon said Biden's North Korea policy aims to achieve “the Korean Peninsula’s complete denuclearization through diplomacy with a flexible, gradual and practical approach.”

The Biden administration hasn't disclosed details of its North Korea policy review. But administration officials have signaled they are trying to set the stage for incremental progress, in which denuclearization steps by the North would be met with corresponding actions, including sanctions relief, rather than a Trump-style push for an immediate, comprehensive deal through a leader-to-leader summit.

Some experts oppose a step-by-step denuclearization process because North Korea could derail negotiations while keeping much of its nuclear arsenal, after some of the most crippling international sanctions are lifted, The Associated Press reported.

Moon said when he meets Biden for their first summit talks in Washington on May 21, he’ll try to bolster the bilateral military alliance, boost policy coordination on North Korea and find ways to resume stalled talks between Washington and Pyongyang and between Seoul and Pyongyang.

Moon, whose single five-year term is to end next May, said he’ll focus on establishing lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula during his final year in office.

“I will not be pressed by time or become impatient during the remainder of my term. However, if there is an opportunity to restart the clock of peace and advance the peace process on the Korean Peninsula, I will do everything I can,” Moon said.

“I look forward to North Korea responding positively."

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