|President Moon Jae-in delivers his opening remarks at the start of a weekly meeting with senior presidential aides at Cheong Wa Dae, Monday morning. Yonhap|
By Kim Yoo-chul
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Monday personal diplomacy between the leaders of the United States and North Korea and Moon himself are still working toward the North's denuclearization and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
"What really matters is that South and North Korea, as well as the United States, come to the negotiating table and the multilateral talks have proceeded thanks to commitment and willingness regarding bringing a lasting peace on the peninsula. I would say the current mood of dialogue has been created on the back of the leaders' efforts to actively embrace the risk of personal diplomacy in the process," Moon said at the start of a weekly meeting with senior presidential aides, according to Cheong Wa Dae press pool reports.
The President said he can't afford to lose what he described as a "golden opportunity" and asked the leaders of the United States and North Korea to take a more gradual and step-by-step approach in the entire process of achieving denuclearization and establishing peace on the peninsula.
"It is a process to change the destiny of the peninsula and it's also a process to completely end hostilities that have lasted more than 70 years," according to the President.
Despite verbal agreements between U.S. President Donald Trump and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-un during their historic encounter at the inter-Korean border in June to resume working-level talks after the meeting, no further progress has been made in that direction.
Rather, the North repeatedly staged short-range ballistic missiles in a protest for this year's joint military drill between South Korea and the U.S. which raised doubts about the prospect in the process. Trump, however, reacted coolly to North Korea's provocations by downplaying the significance of the repressive state's missile launches.
The U.S. president said he received "beautiful letters" from Kim and touted his relationship with the North Korean leader as a success because Trump's top priority is to show success on the North Korean issue ahead of next year's re-election bid, said political analysts.
Moon's remarks came ahead of U.S. special envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun's planned visit to South Korea to coordinate efforts to secure the denuclearization of North Korea. Biegun will be here from Tuesday to Thursday to hold meetings with foreign ministry officials. A visit to Cheong Wa Dae is also planned.
"We have to understand each other's position. What we have to do is to do something which will be beneficial in terms of the positive aspects of the denuclearization process. What we should not do is anything negative in the process," Moon told his aides.
Previous rounds of denuclearization talks have failed to narrow differences over Washington's demands for North Korea to give up all its nuclear weapons and Pyongyang's demands for relief from punishing economic sanctions.