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Moon gives pep talk ahead of summit with Kim Jong-un

Apr 12,2018
President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday called on officials involved in his upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to thoroughly prepare for the meeting and sharpen their negotiation skills and agenda, underscoring the high stakes involved for Seoul.

The two leaders are set to meet on April 27 for the first time to discuss relations between the two countries. Moon called it the “starting line of a long journey toward prosperity and peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

Moon made his remarks during a meeting at the Blue House of a preparatory committee for the inter-Korean summit. Attendees included his chief of staff and minister of foreign affairs.

During the meeting, the president equated complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula to a “big turning point in world history.” He called it a goal that “everyone has dreamed of but no one has yet realized.”

“We need strong resolution and confidence that we will make a new chapter of peace in history by overcoming division and confrontation,” he said.

But Moon also cautioned officials against working with the mind-set of solving all inter-Korean issues in one meeting, instead calling for a gradual process of “building a strong cornerstone that can bring about a peaceful and prosperous Korean Peninsula.” The goal, he said, should be restoring inter-Korean relations, which have soured in the past decade under two conservative administrations.

The outcome of the meeting between Moon and Kim will likely have an impact on a summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump that could come sometime in May or early June. Recognizing such a possibility, Moon said during the meeting that inter-Korean talks should serve as a “good guide” for a Kim-Trump meeting. Moon called on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other government agencies to “closely exchange information and consult” with their American counterparts.

During the inter-Korean summit, Moon is widely expected to serve the role of mediator, conveying to Kim what Trump is willing to give the North in return for his nuclear weapons. Likewise, Kim is likely to present Moon with what he wants in return.

The summit is scheduled to take place in a building just south of the inter-Korean border, making Kim the first North Korean leader to step onto South Korean soil.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]