|President Moon Jae-in shakes hands with a Singaporean official at Changi Airport, Wednesday, after arriving in the country for a three-day state visit. / Korea Times photo by Koh Young-gwon|
By Kim Rahn
The key to resolving North Korea's nuclear issue is to come up with and carry out a detailed denuclearization process, and for this goal, mutual trust among the involved countries is most important, President Moon Jae-in said.
In an interview with The Straits Times that took place before his three-day state visit to Singapore from Wednesday to Friday, Moon said the Korean Peninsula is experiencing a historic shift from war to peace.
"The two Koreas and the U.S. have taken the first step by successfully holding the inter-Korean and Washington-Pyongyang summits," Moon said. "But military tensions and hostility between the North and the U.S. have continued for 70 years and these cannot be resolved at a single stroke."
Moon said the key lies in preparing and carrying out a detailed denuclearization process.
"Pyongyang needs to present more detailed plans for denuclearization and Seoul and Washington need to pursue corresponding measures quickly. For that, trust in each other is most important," the President said.
He expressed gratitude to the Singaporean government for making efforts to host the successful summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on June 12.
The President said South Korea and the U.S. suspended their joint military exercises to build trust to keep the dialogue alive.
"North Korea showed commitment to complete denuclearization through the summits and has taken practical measures including shutting down its nuclear testing site. Seoul and Washington evaluated the North's change of stance positively, and agreed that we needed to consider what the North wants. So we decided to halt the drills as long as dialogue is ongoing."
He dismissed speculation over the possible pullout or reduction of U.S. forces in South Korea, saying this was a matter for the alliance.
Declaring the end to the Korean War will be a milestone toward permanent peace, he said. "As agreed in the Panmunjeom Declaration, it is our goal to declare an end to the war this year, the 65th year since the armistice was signed. We'll closely talk with North Korea and the U.S. about when and how to declare it," Moon said.
The President said Singapore was an important partner in his New Southern Policy aimed at expanding cooperation with Southeast Asia and India.
"I hope my visit will become an important turning point not only for Korea and Singapore to improve bilateral relations but also for Korea and ASEAN to establish a people-centered, prosperous and peaceful community," Moon said.
He said Korea and Singapore can lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution if they cooperate in artificial intelligence, big data, fintech and biotechnology.