SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Thursday that U.S. President Donald Trump and his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong Un, needed to move from "abstract" talk to "concrete" action the next time they meet, to speed up their peace process and bridge mistrust.
In an annual televised news conference, Moon said Kim's trip to China this week suggested a U.S.-North Korea summit could be nearing, adding that he expected news soon of high-level talks between officials from Washington and Pyongyang to plan for such a meeting.
But he also called on Trump and Kim to "reflect" on the fact that their last meeting in Singapore had resulted only in an "abstract agreement," using a Korean word somewhere between reflection, regret and self-examination. When they next meet, both men should then reach "clearer agreements on specific mutual measures."
North Korea, he said, needed to be "bolder" in taking steps toward denuclearization, while Washington needs to give Pyongyang some "encouragement."
"North Korea knows it needs to take clear denuclearization steps to see international sanctions lifted, and I think the United States also realizes that reciprocal measures are needed to match these North Korean denuclearization steps," Moon said.
Moon has been working hard to mediate between Trump and Kim over the past year, and it is rare for him to express even veiled criticism of either man. But his government has expressed eagerness for the peace process to move forward more quickly than it has been.
The South Korean president did not say exactly what steps he wanted Washington to take, but said he wanted to see international sanctions to be eased as soon as possible to enable greater economic cooperation between the two Koreas.
Trump and Kim agreed in Singapore to establish new, peaceful relations between their two countries while North Korea also promised to "work toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."
Since that historic agreement, however, progress has stalled, with Washington frustrated that Pyongyang has not agreed to declare a list of its nuclear facilities, and North Korea displeased that the United States has done nothing to ease sanctions and signal a new era of peaceful relations.
In a televised New Year's Day speech, Kim said he wants to fix the "unsavory" past relations between North Korea and the United States, is ready to meet Trump at any time and "will make efforts to obtain without fail results which can be welcomed by the international community."
But he also warned he "may be compelled to find a new way to defend his country's sovereignty" and achieve peace -- if the United States breaks its promise by maintaining sanctions and demanding North Korea take unilateral steps.
Kim also said he wanted to resume economic cooperation with the South "without preconditions" to reopen a joint economic zone in Kaesong and a joint tourism project in Mount Kumgang in the North.
Moon welcomed that commitment, and said his government would cooperate with the international community, including the United States, "to resolve the remaining issues such as international sanctions as soon as possible" to allow both projects to go ahead.
He said it was wrong to suggest that cooperation between the two Koreas would be a burden on the South's economy, describing it as a potential "blessing" for his country's business sector.
A Section on 01/11/2019
Print Headline: S. Korean urges 'concrete' action