Despite missile launch, Moon to stress need to engage N. Korea: adviser

SEOUL-- South Korean President Moon Jae-in will continue to seek dialogue with North Korea despite the communist state's latest provocation this week that he himself has personally condemned, a presidential adviser said Monday.

Also, the new government under Moon may soon announce measures to restore the country's official and unofficial dialogue channels with Pyongyang, according to Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies.

"President Moon has three main policy objectives. The first one is to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and establish a peace regime here. The second is to remove any possibility of a war here by expanding economic and diplomatic cooperation between the South and the North, and the third is to institutionalize such cooperation," said Yang, who is known to have helped shape Moon's North Korea policy.

"And the strategic means to achieve such objectives is the simultaneous use of pressure and dialogue," he added.

Yang, however, noted the president did not mean to sit down with the communist state for talks, while the latter continues to stage military provocations, such as its launch of what is believed to be a mid- or long-range ballistic missile Sunday.

"The president's North Korea policy is that we need to sternly punish the North for any violation of international norms and regulations, and its launch of the missile constituted such a violation, the reason President Moon sought to firmly pressure the North," he said.

Immediately following the North's missile launch, the president convened an emergency meeting of the National Security Council and strongly condemned the launch.

"Even if dialogue is possible, (we) should show (to North Korea) that it's possible only in case of North Korea changing its attitude," Moon told the NSC meeting, according to the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

Yang insisted a change of attitude for North Korea may only mean a notable pause in its provocations.

"His policy also stipulates that the country will engage North Korea based on a strong Korea-U.S. alliance, but that Seoul will take the lead in engaging North Korea. And Seoul's leadership will be impossible without dialogue between the two Koreas," he said.

The professor said Moon may "take actions for dialogue in the near future," adding such measures may include working-level military talks to restore the dialogue channel at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the Demilitarized Zone, a military buffer zone between the two Koreas.

Such a move, if taken, may mark a complete turnaround from the North Korea policies of the two previous conservative administrations here, which had insisted North Korea first take sincere and significant measures to denuclearize.

The president is expected to explain the apparent change in his country's stance on the North to four global powers -- the United States, Japan, China and Russia -- through his special envoys soon expected to visit the countries.

"Sending a special envoy is a political action aimed at accurately delivering the exact intentions of the top leader, and in that sense, the envoys will likely explain Moon's belief that the denuclearization of North Korea is impossible without engaging the North, and that was why he would set up a dialogue channel between the South and the North," Yang said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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