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(LEAD) President reaffirms resolve to denuclearize N. Korea

All News 12:00 January 10, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES with additional remarks, more details and information)

SEOUL, Jan. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday welcomed the resumption of inter-Korean dialogue but said his country will continue to work with the international community to denuclearize North Korea.

In his first press conference in the new year, Moon also said his country has no plans to ease sanctions on the communist state against the will of the international community.

"Now the dialogue with North Korea has begun, but because the North Korean nuclear issue has not been resolved, South Korea will continue to keep pace with the pressure and sanctions by the international community. We have no plans to ease our unilateral sanctions against North Korea that are in place in addition to international sanctions for now," he told the press conference.

The remarks came one day after the divided Koreas resumed their cross-border dialogue to discuss the North's participation in the Winter Olympic Games to be held in the South Korean city of PyeongChang from Feb. 9-25.

(LEAD) President reaffirms resolve to denuclearize N. Korea - 1

The inter-Korean talks marked the first of their kind since December 2015, but they have prompted some concerns in the international community that an improvement in inter-Korean ties may create loopholes in what Seoul and its allies earlier called their "maximum pressure and sanctions" against the North.

Moon apparently sought to eradicate such concerns, saying the ultimate goal of the inter-Korean dialogue was to denuclearize the reclusive North.

"As you may know, we must also seek to realize the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue while improving South-North Korean relations. These two are not an issue that can go separate ways. The South-North Korean issue can be improved when the North Korean nuclear issue is resolved and once the South-North Korean relations are improved, they can help resolve the North Korean nuclear issue," he said.

"The goal of sanctions and pressure is to bring North Korea to the dialogue table. This is only the start, but we cannot say dialogue is the only solution. We will work to help resolve the North Korean nuclear issue by seeking improvements in the South-North Korea relationship through dialogue but should the North stage an additional provocation, the international community will continue to put strong sanctions. And our government too will not have no choice but to push for both (dialogue and sanctions)," the president added.

Moon also stressed that the United States too welcomed the resumption of inter-Korean talks, saying the talks may have been possible due to U.S.-led sanctions.

"They may have been the outcome of the sanctions and pressure led by the United States," he said. "The dialogue between South Korea and North Korea have begun. We plan to turn this dialogue into a chance to improve South-North Korea relations and also resolve the North Korean nuclear issue through dialogue."

bdk@yna.co.kr
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