Seoul seeks to salvage denuclearization efforts via inter-Korean talks

SEOUL, Sept. 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will seek to again salvage international efforts to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons with a series of dialogue and joint events planned with the communist state, including a bilateral summit.

Already, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has offered to send a delegation headed by a special envoy to Pyongyang to discuss his scheduled summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The divided Koreas have agreed to hold what would be a third Moon-Kim summit in Pyongyang this month.

The South Korean delegates, however, will also discuss ways to move forward the apparently stalled denuclearization talks between the United States and North Korea.

"The special envoy will discuss a wide range of issues, including the specific date for the South-North Korea summit, development of the South-North Korean relationship, denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula," Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesman for the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, said earlier.

Moon has yet to name his special envoy to North Korea, though the envoy and other delegates are set to head for Pyongyang on Wednesday.

It will be the second time that the South Korean president will send a special envoy to the reclusive North this year. The first delegation was headed by Moon's top security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, while it also included Suh Hoon, head of the National Intelligence Service.

The trip by the South Korean envoy and other delegates was what led to the first Moon-Kim summit, held in the border village of Panmunjom on April 27, which eventually led to the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit that enabled the ongoing denuclearization process.

The North Korean leader first expressed his willingness to denuclearize in his April 27 summit with Moon.

He reaffirmed his commitment in their second summit, also held in Panmunjom, on May 26, then again in his historic summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12.

The North's denuclearization process seemed to have halted when Trump called off a scheduled trip by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Pyongyang, citing what he called a lack of progress in the denuclearization process.

Seoul officials expressed hope the scheduled Moon-Kim summit will again lead to a breakthrough in international efforts to denuclearize the North.

"Obviously, President Moon's role as a mediator has only become greater," a Cheong Wa Dae official said while speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official noted the president will likely highlight the need to resume U.S.-North Korea dialogue when he meets the North Korean leader.

The Cheong Wa Dae spokesman too has said the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula has been and will continue to be at the center of any inter-Korean dialogue.

Meanwhile, Moon Chung-in, a special adviser to President Moon for security affairs, earlier said the South Korean president may seek to jointly travel with the North Korean leader to New York for a three-way meeting with U.S. President Trump on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, set to open Sept. 18.

The trip, if made, may be aimed at declaring a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War, the adviser insisted.

A Cheong Wa Dae official said such an event, if possible, would be ideal in ensuring peace on the Korean Peninsula and denuclearizing the North.

Still, the official said Seoul will not be too hasty.

"It would be ideal, but declaring a formal end of the war at the U.N. meeting is not the first objective we are aiming for," the official said, adding, "Enabling North Korea-U.S. dialogue is."

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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