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South Korea’s Moon optimistic on US-North Korea diplomatic thaw


South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivers his adresses at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute 42nd Singapore lecture on July 13, 2018 during a three-day state visit in Singapore. / AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMAN

South Korean president Moon Jae-in said Friday he is confident a diplomatic thaw between Washington and Pyongyang will continue, despite “bumps and bruises” on the path to denuclearising the Korean peninsula.

Moon was speaking during a state visit in Singapore, where last month US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met during an unprecedented leaders’ summit.

Kim committed to a nuclear-free North Korea at the end of the convivial meeting, but tensions resurfaced in the following weeks as representatives of both countries began to flesh out the deal.

“There will indeed be bumps and bruises along the way to achieve complete denuclearisation in the Korean Peninsula. But I believe we are in a completely different position (compared to) what happened in the past,” Moon said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo received a chilly reception last week after travelling to Pyongyang for denuclearisation talks.

While Pompeo said the talks were in good faith, Pyongyang’s take was staunchly negative, warning the future of the peace process was being jeopardised by “unilateral and gangster-like” US demands for its nuclear disarmament.

North Korean officials failed to attend a planned meeting on Thursday to discuss returning the remains of American soldiers killed during the 1950-53 war that divided the Korean peninsula.

Pyongyang has long signalled a desire for denuclearisation, which it sees as a lengthy process of multilateral disarmament on the entire Korean peninsula rather than the unilateral dismantling of its nuclear arsenal.

Ties between North and South Korea have rapidly thawed in recent months following an April summit between Moon and Kim.

Moon said Friday that Seoul was willing to build an economic community with its neighbour once Pyongyang has shown it no longer has nuclear weapons.

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