South Korea’s president said Wednesday he’s open to meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un if certain conditions are met, as he vowed to push for more talks and cooperation with the North to try to resolve the nuclear standoff.
President Moon Jae-in has previously floated the idea of a summit with Kim under conditions. But his latest comments came a day after the North agreed to send a delegation to next month’s Winter Olympics in South Korea and hold military talks on reducing animosities along their tense border the measures that Moon’s government has been demanding.
The accords, reached at the rivals’ first meeting in about two years, were widely viewed as a positive step following a year of escalating tension over Kim’s advancing nuclear and missile programs. But critics cautioned against reading too much from the North’s moves because tensions could flare again quickly as Pyongyang still openly seeks to expand its weapons arsenal. They also say Kim may push for better ties with Seoul as North Korea feels the pain of U.S.-led international sanctions.
During a televised news conference in Seoul, Moon described the North’s Olympic participation as “very desirable,” but said that inter-Korean relations cannot be improved without progress in the nuclear standoff and vice versa.
Moon said North Korea will face harsher international sanctions and pressure if it resorts to fresh provocations, adding that “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is path to peace and our goal.”
Moon, a liberal who favors a peaceful, diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue, still said he “keeps myself open to any meeting including the summit” with Kim if it could help improve inter-Korean ties and resolve the nuclear tension. He said he’ll push for more talks and cooperation with North Korea for the same purpose.
“To have the summit, some conditions must be established. I think a certain level of success must be guaranteed,” Moon said.