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South Korea’s Moon urges Biden to engage directly with North Korea

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This picture taken on April 15, 2021 and released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 16 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) visiting the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, together with his wife Ri Sol Ju (3rd L) to mark the Day of the Sun, the birthday of the country’s founder and late president Kim Il Sung, in Pyongyang. (Photo by STR / KCNA VIA KNS / AFP) / – South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT

South Korean President Moon Jae-in urged Joe Biden to open up talks with North Korea on its nuclear weapons and build on the ground-breaking talks his predecessor Donald Trump held with Pyongyang.

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In an interview with the New York Times published Wednesday, Moon suggested the US president needed to engage directly with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and not consign denuclearization talks to lower-level officials haggling over preliminary details.

Moon told the newspaper he favoured “top-down diplomacy.”

“The most important starting point for both governments is to have the will for dialogue and to sit down face to face at an early date,” Moon told the Times.

“I hope that Biden will go down as a historic president that has achieved substantive and irreversible progress for the complete denuclearization and peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula,” he said.

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Moon’s overtures to North Korea paved the way for Trump’s June 2018 Singapore summit with Kim, which boosted hopes that Pyongyang might be persuaded to reel in its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs that threaten South Korea, Japan and US territory.

Although Kim froze nuclear and missile tests after that meeting, Trump followed up poorly, and nothing more concrete was accomplished despite a second summit, according to Moon.

“He beat around the bush and failed to pull it through,” he said of Trump.

“I believe that if we build on what President Trump has left, we will see this effort come to fruition under Biden’s leadership,” he said.

He urged the United States and North Korea to develop a “mutually trusted road map” toward the end goal of denuclearization and, for Pyongyang, the removal of crippling international sanctions.

Biden and Moon will meet in Washington next month on bilateral relations and regional issues, the White House announced last week.

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