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(3rd LD) Moon, Trump agree inter-Korean dialogue may lead to denuclearization talks

All News 01:48 January 11, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES with White House statement in paras 6, 9; CHANGES dateline)

SEOUL/WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday welcomed the resumption of talks between South Korea and North Korea this week, saying his country too may hold dialogue with the communist state when the timing and conditions are right.

In a telephone conversation with his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, the U.S. leader also noted the possibility of inter-Korean dialogue leading to the start of negotiations between his country and North Korea on ending the latter's nuclear ambitions.

"After noting that South-North Korea talks may go beyond North Korea's participation in the PyeongChang Olympic Games and eventually lead to talks between the U.S. and North Korea for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the two leaders agreed to closely consult on the direction of talks between the South and North Korea in the future," the presidential office, Cheong Wa Dae, said in a press release.

The Moon-Trump talks, the second of their kind in less than a week, came one day after the divided Koreas resumed their dialogue for the first time in more than two years to discuss the North's participation in the Winter Olympic Games to be held here Feb. 9-25. The two leaders last spoke on the phone on Thursday.

According to Moon's chief press secretary, Yoon Young-chan, Trump said the U.S. also remains open to talks with the North should the reclusive state wish to hold such dialogue at an appropriate time and under the right conditions.

The White House issued a similar press release, but added the two leaders "underscored the importance of continuing the maximum pressure campaign against North Korea." The U.S.-led campaign seeks to increase economic sanctions on North Korea and deepen its isolation in the international community until it comes forward for talks on its denuclearization.

The U.S. president also dismissed a recent report that he may be considering military action against the North and asked Moon to let North Korea understand that there will be no military action of any kind while the two Koreas continue to hold dialogue, Yoon said.

Moon expressed appreciation for U.S. support, noting the resumption of inter-Korean dialogue may have been possible due to what he called Trump's strong principle and support, according to Yoon.

The White House statement said Moon thanked Trump "for his influential leadership in making the talks possible."

"The two leaders agreed on the need to maintain a firm stance for the success of dialogue," the Cheong Wa Dae official added.

Meanwhile, Trump said he planned to send an official delegation, led by Vice President Mike Pence, to the PyeongChang Olympic Games.


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