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Moon says willing to meet N. Korean leader at any time under right conditions

All Headlines 20:02 July 06, 2017

SEOUL, July 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in urged North Korea Thursday to return to negotiations aimed at ending its nuclear ambition, also saying he was willing to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at any time and any place under right circumstances.

"When the right conditions are fostered and when there is a chance to reverse the current tension and situation of confrontation on the Korean Peninsula, I am ready to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at any time and any place," the South Korean President said while speaking at Korber Foundation, a nonprofit think tank based in Berlin, according to a script of his speech released by his presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul.

Moon also called on Pyongyang to return to the dialogue table, noting it may be facing the last and best chance to do so.

"I make this clear here and now. We do not want North Korea's collapse, nor will we seek any form of unification (with North Korea) by absorption," he said.

Moon is currently on a two-day visit to Berlin that included earlier meetings with German leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel. He was set to head for Hamburg later Thursday to attend the Group of 20 summit over the following two days.

His trip to Germany came shortly after North Korea launched what it claimed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in its sixth and most serious provocation since the new South Korean leader took office on May 10.

"The missile provocation that took place just two days ago was a very disappointing and ill-advised choice. It did not only violate U.N. Security Council resolutions, but also showed a clear rejection of the international community's repeated warnings," Moon said.

Under the U.N. Security Council resolutions, North Korea is prohibited from any activities related to its nuclear capabilities or means of delivering nuclear weapons.

"North Korea's choice was reckless. It has invited the punishment of the international community," Moon added.

He, however, noted the North may still have a chance, maybe its last, to make a better choice.

"Complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the consistent demand of the international community and the one absolute condition for peace on the peninsula. This means a decision to denuclearize is the only way to ensure North Korea's safety," the South Korean president said.

"And that is why I emphasize the fact that now is the last chance and also the best chance for North Korea to make the right choice."

Should Pyongyang refuse to stop its provocations, there will be nothing left for North Korea but stronger sanctions and pressure, Moon noted.

Explaining his administration's five-point North Korea policy, Moon said his country "only seeks peace."

"Second, we will seek denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a way that will guarantee the safety of the North Korean regime," he added.

They also included establishing lasting peace and a new economic map on the Korean Peninsula that will ensure co-existence and co-prosperity of the divided Koreas, according to the South Korean president.

He also vowed to maintain humanitarian and non-political ties with the communist North without disruption regardless of conditions in their military or political relations.

Such a policy is apparently aimed at ensuring humanitarian assistance for the suffering population of the impoverished North, and also allowing the reunions of families long separated by the division of the two Koreas.

Moon noted some 60,000 people still lived in South Korea, separated from their family members in North Korea.

"We need to let these people meet their loved ones while they are still alive. It is a humanitarian issue that must come before any political consideration," he said.

The South Korean president also proposed four action plans for the two Koreas to ensure peace on the peninsula.

They included a resumption of inter-Korean dialogue and an immediate and complete suspension of all hostile activities along the demarcation line that separates the two Koreas.

Moon also extended his country's invitation again to the North to take part in the upcoming Winter Olympic Games to be held in South Korea's Pyeongchang early next year.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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