South Korean President Moon Jae In Says North Korea Willing to Stop Nuclear Weapons

Michael Song, April 20, 2018, 8:35 a.m.


President Moon Jae-in on Thursday said North Korea is willing to denuclearize "completely" and is not setting any conditions that the U.S. cannot accept like withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Korea. The international community is seeking the "complete, verifiable and irreversible" scrapping of North Korea's nuclear program.

Moon made this claim over lunch with the heads of South Korea's major news outlets. All North Korea is calling for is "the end of hostile policies" against it, "followed by a guarantee of security," he added. "It would be correct to think that is why North Korea wants to hold talks with the U.S."

"In the past, many people predicted that North Korea's claim to the status of a nuclear-armed state and its intention to negotiate with the U.S. over nuclear non-proliferation or a nuclear freeze would differ from South Korea's concept of denuclearization," he said. "But I don't think there is a difference."

But he warned that the difficulty lies in finding a "specific method to achieve denuclearization" and asked the assembled editors to offer good ideas.

Moon compared the 2007 summit between then-President Roh Moon-hyun and then-leader Kim Jong-il with his own upcoming meeting with Kim Jong-un. "North Korea's nuclear weapons and missiles have evolved to a level that cannot be compared to those days, while strong international and U.S. sanctions are underway," he said.

"There are not many areas that can be agreed upon by North and South Korea beyond those sanctions. The North Korean nuclear standoff must be solved so that international sanctions can be lifted, and only then can inter-Korean relations improve." 

Meanwhile, Cheong Wa Dae said a hotline connecting the leaders of North and South Korea will open on Friday, but they are unlikely to communicate yet. It also said Moon will be accompanied to the summit by six key officials -- his Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok, National Security Council chief Chung Eui-yong, National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon, Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, Defense Minister Song Young-moo and Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha.

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