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President offers family reunion

He also calls for inter-Korean talks including summit
July 07,2017
While condemning North Korea for its continued nuclear and missile provocations, President Moon Jae-in declared Thursday that his administration will consistently push forward non-political inter-Korean cooperation projects.

Moon, currently visiting Germany for a summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and to attend the Group of 20 Summit, gave a speech at the Koerber Foundation in Berlin and presented a new plan for uniting the two Koreas.

In the speech, Moon said dialogue is crucial to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula and end the security crisis prompted by the North’s rapidly advancing nuclear and missile capabilities.

He also reiterated his proposals to resume talks with the North, including a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. At the same time, Moon issued a stern warning to Pyongyang to stop its provocations, as the speech was made shortly after the North’s test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Stressing that expanding civilian exchanges is an important tool for creating a breakthrough in the frozen relations between the two Koreas’ governments, Moon said he will support various inter-Korean projects of nongovernmental groups and regional governments. “As a starter, the government will actively support if the civilian communities will hold a joint event to mark the Aug. 15 Liberation Day,” he said.

Moon also said that it is imperative that the two Koreas resolve urgent humanitarian issues and proposed to have a family reunion for the Chuseok holiday in October.

He said this year marks the 10th anniversary of the Oct. 4, 2007, declaration between his liberal predecessor, the late President Roh Moo-hyun, and the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, and that the holiday also falls on Oct. 4 this year. If the two Koreas hold a reunion on that day, it will mark a meaningful start for the two Koreas to respect existing agreements and implement them, he said.

He proposed that if the North is willing, the family reunion in October should include participants’ visits to the graves of their families and relatives. Moon pointed out that Germany, during its separation, allowed separated families to exchange letters and phone calls, as well as to make visits and even relocate, eventually helping reunification. Moon proposed a Red Cross talk to discuss the matter with the North.

Moon said Germany’s history illustrates that peace and cooperation are crucial for unification, as well as consistency in reunification policy. He urged Korean politicians to show bipartisan supports for his vision.

Declaring that he will uphold the efforts of his two liberal predecessors, the late presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh, Moon said he will start a journey to establish a peaceful regime on the peninsula with South Korea taking a leading role.

Criticizing the North for continuing its nuclear arms programs and conducting the latest ICBM test, Moon said the Kim Jong-un regime is testing his administration’s will to help it win the international community’s support.

“I do not want North Korea to cross the bridge of no return,” Moon said, adding that now is the last and best chance for the North to make the right choice. He said the need for dialogue is higher than ever because of the escalated military tension, urging the North to come to the negotiation table.

He also warned that there will not be another option than stronger sanctions and pressures if the North does not give up its nuclear program. “Peace on the Korean Peninsula and the security of the North won’t be guaranteed,” he said.

Moon laid out his plan to establish permanent peace on the peninsula, declaring that the South has no hostile intentions toward the North. “I want to say it clearly here. We do not want North Korea’s collapse, and we will not pursue any form of reunification through absorption,” Moon said. “We will not seek any artificial reunification.”

He also vowed to seek denuclearization of the peninsula that will guarantee the security of the North Korean regime and urged the North to stop its nuclear programs and to engage in bilateral and multilateral talks to this end.

Moon also proposed to replace the Korean War armistice with a peace treaty and to legislate all inter-Korean agreements into law to protect their powers. A new economic cooperation plan was also proposed. He said the vision will be implemented after progress is seen with regard to the nuclear crisis.

Asking the North to start with easier projects, such as the family reunion, Moon reiterated his invitation to the North to participate in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Moon said he is willing to meet North Korean leader Kim anytime, anywhere - if they can discuss nuclear issues and a possible peace treaty - asking the North to make a bold decision.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]