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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Sept. 5)

2018/09/05 07:07

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Time for breakthrough

Kim should make more concrete steps for denuclearization

The world will be eyeing how North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will respond to President Moon Jae-in's special envoy who is visiting Pyongyang today.

A lot is riding on the trip by presidential envoy Chung Eui-yong, Moon's national security adviser, who is making his second visit to the North Korean capital carrying the President's message for further discussions on issues regarding inter-Korean relations and peace on the Korean Peninsula.

The last time Chung was in Pyongyang in March, Kim hosted a dinner for the delegation and their encounter seemed smooth, coming on the heels of the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games in which North Korea participated at the last minute. While meeting with Chung, Kim showed his willingness to talk with U.S. President Donald Trump and stop testing missiles.

After returning to Seoul, Chung announced that the two leaders were set to hold a summit at the end of April at the truce village of Panmunjeom. This time, however, the mood is much more serious as Chung's visit comes amid a deadlock in U.S.-North Korea denuclearization talks. It is unclear whether Kim will meet with Moon's envoys this time. Kim did not meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his last visit to Pyongyang in July.

Following the June 12 summit between Trump and Kim in Singapore, North Korea has been slow to take concrete steps to halt its missile and nuclear weapons development, even after the U.S. suspended joint military exercises with South Korea. Instead, it has focused more on pressing the U.S for a declaration ending the 1950-53 Korean War, and sanctions relief.

It is difficult for the U.S.-North Korea denuclearization talks to make significant progress unless Pyongyang starts to show its sincerity in delivering on its part of the agreement reached between Trump and Kim during their historic meeting in Singapore.

It has been reported that the third summit between Moon and Kim could take place between Sept. 18 and 20 and that Moon will convey his intention to improve inter-Korean relations through initiatives such as a basic inter-Korean treaty and a roadmap for economic cooperation. But none of this will be possible without a breakthrough in North Korea's denuclearization.

Kim should tell Moon's envoy he will take preliminary steps to abandon his missile and nuclear programs. Only then can the two leaders' next summit be a fruitful one that establishes a positive mood for a declaration to end the war within the year, the 65th anniversary of the signing of the armistice, as stated in the Panmunjeom Declaration.

(END)

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