South Korean President Moon Jae-in plans to use his final year in office to reach an “irreversible peace” on the Korean Peninsula, and will seek help in salvaging one of his policy priorities at a summit next week with U.S. President Joe Biden.
Moon said Monday in a speech marking the start of the final year of his single, five-year term that now is “time to take action.” He added: “I will consider the remaining one year of my term as my last chance to move forward from an incomplete peace to an irreversible peace.”
His remarks come before his meeting with Biden on May 21 at the White House, where North Korea will be high on the agenda. Moon is set to become the second leader of a foreign country to hold face-to-face talks with Biden since he took office, following an April summit with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
“Also, we will closely coordinate our North Korea policy to restore inter-Korean dialogue and that between the U.S. and North Korea,” Moon said.
Moon called Biden’s new North Korea policy “flexible” and “practical,” adding that Washington closely consulted with Seoul during the formation of the new approach. The Biden administration has indicated it may be ready to ease sanctions in exchange for steps by leader Kim Jong Un to freeze, cap and wind down his atomic arsenal. That could help Kim fix an economy that has only grown smaller since he took power about a decade ago.
Moon has seen his role as an intermediary between Washington and Pyongyang diminish after he helped broker the first summit between then President Donald Trump and Kim in Singapore in June 2018.
Since then, North Korea has rebuffed Moon’s attempts at rapprochement, labeled him meddlesome and last year destroyed an inter-Korean liaison office on its side of the border that had been the most visible symbol of Moon’s quest to seek warmer ties with his neighbor.
Moon’s has been pressing the Biden administration to resume nuclear negotiations that sputtered under Trump, without producing any concrete steps to wind down leader Kim’s arsenal.
Kim earlier this year ratcheted up security tensions for the Biden administration when he said he would put his country on a path to develop more advanced nuclear technologies and missiles. A top North Korean official added pressure this month when he labeled Biden’s comment that Pyongyang’s nuclear program is a threat as “intolerable.”
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