Pence asks Moon to communicate, talk more closely with N. Korea: official

SINGAPORE, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence asked South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday to communicate and talk more closely with North Korea, Moon's spokesman said.

The remark, made during a meeting with Moon in Singapore on the sidelines of regional summits, is seen as a call for Moon to play greater roles so that upcoming talks between the U.S. and the North, including a second summit, will be able make progress.

Pence was quoted as telling reporters after the meeting with Moon at the Suntec convention center that U.S. President Donald Trump plans to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un next year and that the two sides are discussing details.

"My understanding is that (Pence) made a request to Moon separately even as talks are under way between the North and the U.S.," the South's presidential spokesman, Kim Eui-kyeom, told reporters.

Moon agreed to play active roles while closely communicating with both sides, Kim said.

Kim said that there was no mention of sanctions during the meeting.

"President Moon and Vice President Pence exchanged views on the Korean Peninsula and discussed preparations for a second summit between the North and the U.S.," Kim said. "Based on firm trust, the two sides agreed to work closely for complete denuclearization and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, just as they have done so far."

The meeting came as North Korea's denuclearization process has made little headway in recent weeks, with the planned high-level talks between the U.S. and the North having been called off at the last minute last week.

Moon called for a parallel progress in inter-Korean relations and the North-U.S. ties.

"It is entirely the power of the strong Korea-U.S. alliance that drew North Korea into dialogue and made the current situation possible," Moon said at the start of the meeting. "In order to realize lasting peace (on the Korean Peninsula), inter-Korean relations should move forward together with North-U.S. relations."

Moon also said that the Korean peace process began with February's PyeongChang Winter Olympics and has led to three inter-Korean summits and the historic North-U.S. summit. And it is thanks to the strong leadership and resolution of U.S. President Donald Trump that made the current situation possible, he said, adding that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un thinks the same way.

Moon said that the North's leader is expected to visit Seoul in the near future and a second U.S.-North Korea summit will also be taking place, adding that a new Trump-Kim summit will produce big progress in the denuclearization and peace process.

Moon said that he feels confident about the way forward as Pence, whose father fought in the Korean War, is supporting the peace process, and that the Korea-U.S. alliance is the basis of South Korea's foreign policy and will remain solid going forward.

Pence said that he spoke with Trump earlier in the morning and Trump asked him to send Moon his regards. Trump also expressed appreciation to Moon for showing close partnership in efforts to realize denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, according to presidential officials.

Pence also said he looks forward to a second summit between Trump and the North's leader and that things are moving forward in a way that ultimately guarantees security and peace on the Korean Peninsula.

The U.S. will continue to make efforts toward the ultimate goal of realizing a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, Pence said. He also said that a lot of progress has been made, but there still remains much work to do ahead.

Pence also said that Trump believes a second summit with the North's leader will lay a big foundation for the joint goal of long-term denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Pence said he hopes North Korea will take more important measures to realize the ultimate goal,.

Pence also thanked Moon for supporting the revision of a free trade pact between the two countries.

The Korea-U.S. alliance is more solid than ever and the credit goes to Trump and Moon, Pence said. He thanked Moon for talking about his father's participation in the Korean War.

Pence also said the best time for the two countries' people has yet to come and the two countries should make more efforts to further move their relations forward.

The 34-minute meeting was Moon's first with Pence since the U.S. vice president visited South Korea in February to attend the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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