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ROK's Moon optimistic on DPRK, US

China Daily | Updated: 2019-01-11 09:41
ROK President Moon Jae-in holds his New Year news conference at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on Thursday. JUNG YEON-JE/REUTERS

The president hopes that a second Trump-Kim summit will be 'soon'

The Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in on Thursday stressed the need for "corresponding measures" by the United States to further accelerate the denuclearization process, as he said a second US-DPRK summit is "imminent".

Moon made the remarks at his first nationally televised news conference this year held in the ROK's presidential Blue House.

He stressed that Washington "must consider corresponding measures to further promote the denuclearization process" while Pyongyang should also take more concrete and faster denuclearization steps if it wishes to resolve the issue of international sanctions.

His remarks follow months of debates between the US and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea over the sequences of denuclearization.

Pyongyang is said to be demanding "corresponding measures" for the denuclearization steps it has taken so far, while Washington said it needs to do more.

The ROK president said such a gap may stem from years of distrust and hostility.

"I think both sides are aware. Pyongyang knows it needs to take more concrete denuclearization steps in the end to remove international sanctions, and Washington too sees the need for corresponding measures to encourage Pyongyang's denuclearization," Moon said.

"However, they are asking the other side to act first because they cannot trust each other. I believe that is why the second summit has been delayed until now," he added.

Moon noted the second Trump-Kim summit will be imminent, saying the DPRK top leader Kim Jong-un's trip to China this week has shown a positive indication.

"I believe Chairman Kim's China visit is a sign that the second summit is not far away. China has continued to play a positive role in the process of inter-Korean dialogue, as well as US-DPRK talks," he said.

While there are concerns that the DPRK and the US might be quarreling over what "complete denuclearization" should entail, Moon said the DPRK top leader fully understands and agrees with the definition of complete denuclearization used by Washington and the rest of the international community.

"Kim Jong-un has clearly stated to the leaders of each country that he has met, including myself, that there is no difference between the complete denuclearization he is talking about and the complete denuclearization the international community demands," Moon said.

Moon also expressed hope for Kim to visit the ROK in the near future, possibly following his second summit with the US president. Kim had agreed to visit Seoul to reciprocate Moon's trip to Pyongyang in September for their third bilateral summit.

In addition, Moon said his country will resume its economic cooperation with the DPRK as soon as international sanctions are removed.

"As many of you have said, our economy is facing structural difficulties and is no longer able to realize high growth rates like in the past. I believe inter-Korean economic cooperation will provide a new growth engine that revitalizes our economy," he said.

Moon was also asked about a court ruling on Wednesday. An ROK court said it would freeze the local assets of a Japanese steel company involved in a compensation dispute with wartime Korean laborers, leading to a diplomatic spat between the two neighbors.

Japan called on Seoul's top diplomat to Tokyo on Wednesday to file its complaint.

Moon expressed regrets over what he called an attempt by the Japanese government to politicize historical issues between the two countries.

"The ROK government has repeatedly said we should address those issues separately while making sure the countries' relations are not damaged," the president said.

Yonhap, AP and Xinhua contributed to this story.

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