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South Korea’s Moon says door to North dialogue still open


South Korean President Moon Jae-In presides over an emergency meeting with National Security Council members at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on July 4, 2017. North Korea launched a ballistic missile on July 4, the South’s military said, just days after Seoul’s new leader Moon Jae-In and US President Donald Trump focused on the threat from Pyongyang in their first summit. / AFP PHOTO / YONHAP / str / – South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT

South Korean President Moon Jae-In insisted Thursday he was ready to meet the North’s leader “wherever and whenever” to ease tensions after its first successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Speaking in Germany on the eve of a G20 summit, Moon said it was “dangerous” there was “no dialogue whatsoever” with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un.

“When the conditions are met, I am prepared to meet the North Korean ruler wherever and whenever,” he told an audience at a think-tank in Berlin, calling for a “long dialogue for peace and detente”.

“It should be used as an occasion to stop the conflicts and it is important to start and to take the first step.”

On a visit to Washington last month, Moon laid out his conditions for full-fledged talks for nuclear dismantlement including North Korea refraining from nuclear and missile tests and promising a nuclear freeze.

Moon said the offer for talks was on the table despite his renewed call for toughened sanctions against the North.

“The international community should take a firm stance toward North Korea also with greater sanctions and more pressure with regard to their military activities,” he said.

“But also we should underline very clearly that the window of dialogue is still open, completely.”

Before talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin late Wednesday, Moon condemned Pyongyang for a “major provocation” with this week’s test and said the international community would “examine possibilities of ramping up sanctions”.

Merkel, the G20 host, also spoke out in favour of punitive action against the North, saying that discussions between her and Moon “will focus on how best we can react, how we can keep up the pressure, how we can further ramp up sanctions”.

For its part, Pyongyang warned it would be a “piece of cake” to destroy “gangster” South Korea, state media reported Thursday, as it raged against Seoul for a joint missile drill with the US following its missile test.

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