Vastavam web: South Korean President Moon Jae-In said today he would be willing to sit down with the nuclear- armed North’s leader Kim Jong-Un, as the international community welcomed an agreement for Pyongyang to send its athletes to the Winter Olympics in the South.The Games in Pyeongchang next month have long been overshadowed by geopolitical tensions, with the North launching missiles capable of reaching the US mainland in recent months and detonating by far its most powerful nuclear device to date.”It is only the beginning,” Moon told a press conference today. “Yesterday was the first step and I think we had a good start.”
“Bringing North Korea to talks for denuclearisation is the next step we must take.” He was willing to hold a summit “at any time”, he said, as long as it was “under the right conditions”.But the US has said the regime must stop nuclear tests for negotiations with Washington to take place.”We have no difference in opinion with the US,” Moon insisted, saying they shared an understanding about security, were working together and were both threatened by the North’s nuclear weapons and missiles.But he stressed that the aim of sanctions was to bring North Korea to talks, and “stronger sanctions and pressures could further heighten tensions and lead to accidental armed conflicts”.US president Donald Trump has a much closer relationship with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe than he does with Moon, and has claimed credit for the North-South talks himself.
“If I weren’t involved, they wouldn’t be talking about the Olympics right now, they’d be doing no talking,” Trump said at the weekend, ahead of the meeting.Moon thanked him for his efforts today. “I think President Trump’s role in the realisation of inter-Korean talks was very big.” he said. “I would like to express my gratitude.”
China – the North’s major diplomatic backer and trade partner – and Russia, with which it also has strong ties, both welcomed the North-South talks.And Japan’s top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said today that Tokyo “highly valued” Pyongyang’s expressed willingness to participate in the Olympics.”But there is no change in our policy of exerting the maximum level of pressure on North Korea until they change their policy, in close cooperation with the US, South Korea, and also involving China and Russia,” he added.