New plans for inter-Korean engagement

  • ASEAN+
  • Friday, 01 Mar 2019

SEOUL: South Korean president Moon Jae-in plans to offer new proposals for inter-Korean engagement following the high-stakes nuclear summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Moon’s office said the announcement is planned for a ceremony today marking the 100th anniversary of a 1919 uprising by Koreans against Japan’s colonial rule and will likely include plans for economic cooperation between the rival Koreas.

Moon, who has prioritised improving relations with the North, is desperate for a breakthrough in nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang so he can continue his ambitious drive for inter-Korean engagement. He has driven the three-way diplomacy but is held back by tough US-led sanctions against the North.

Moon’s office said he expects to speak with Trump on the phone after Trump’s meeting with Kim in Hanoi, Vietnam.

In a meeting with senior aides, Moon expressed hope on the material progress of the North’s nuclear disarmament and the easing of the sanctions, which would allow further space for inter-Korean cooperation, including joint economic projects.

Moon earlier told Trump in a phone conversation that the South was ready to proceed with inter-Korean economic projects to induce further nuclear disarmament steps from the North.

At their third summit in North Korea’s capital last September, Moon and Kim agreed to norma­lise operations at a jointly run factory park in the North Korean border town of Kaesong and restart South Korean tours to the North’s Diamond Mountain resort when possible.

They voiced optimism that international sanctions could end and allow such projects.

The Koreas in past months have also discussed ambitious plans to reconnect their railways and roads.

“If the North Korean economy opens up, neighbouring countries, international organisations and global capital will join in its development,” Moon said in the meeting with aides, describing Seoul as the “main stakeholder” in issues on the Korean Peninsula.

“In this process, we should not lose our initiative. We are the masters of the destiny of the Korean Peninsula.” — AP

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