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(4th LD) Moon, Trump agree to push for N. Korea summit as scheduled

All Headlines 04:38 May 23, 2018

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES with outcome of Moon-Trump summit, more details, minor changes in paras 2-7)
By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, May 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed Tuesday to closely work together to hold the U.S.-North Korea summit as scheduled, apparently removing earlier skepticism by the U.S. over the North's commitment to the summit and its denuclearization.

"President Moon and President Trump agreed to do their utmost so the U.S.-North Korea summit scheduled for June 12 will be held without any disruption," Moon's chief press secretary, Yoon Young-chan, said of the summit here in Washington.

The latest South Korea-U.S. summit came one day after Moon arrived. His meeting with Trump marked the fourth of its kind since Moon took office in May 2017.

The agreement to hold the U.S.-North Korea summit as scheduled came shortly after Trump hinted at a possible delay.

"We are moving along and we will see what happens," Trump told reporters when asked whether his scheduled summit with Kim would take place as scheduled.

"There are certain conditions that we want. And I think we will get those conditions. And if we don't, we don't have the meeting. If it doesn't happen, maybe it will happen later. Maybe it will happen at a different time," Trump said, according to Cheong Wa Dae pool reports.

Moon highlighted the importance of the U.S.-North Korea summit, calling it an unprecedented chance to rid the North of its nuclear ambitions.

"I am very well aware that there are skeptical views in the U.S. on whether the North Korea-U.S. summit would succeed and if complete denuclearization of North Korea would be realized," Moon told the quasi-joint press conference held shortly before his summit with Trump, according to the pool reports.

"However, there may never been any development in history should we remain skeptical and expect failure just because we have failed before," he added.

The U.S. skepticism follows a rash of harsh rhetoric from Pyongyang that raised questions about its commitment to denuclearization.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) and U.S. President Donald Trump shake hands before the start of their bilateral summit at the White House in Washington on May 22, 2018. (Yonhap)

The South Korean president partly helped make the unprecedented U.S.-North Korea summit possible through his engagement policy that also led to his own bilateral summit with Kim, held at the border village of Panmunjom on April 27.

In the Panmunjom joint declaration, Moon and Kim agreed to pursue complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The Trump-Kim summit, if held, is widely expected to set terms for the North's denuclearization process.

Since the April 27 inter-Korean summit, however, the North has once again gone on the offensive, threatening to reconsider its summit with the U.S. It has also suspended high-level dialogue with South Korea, originally scheduled for last week.

Trump earlier sought to offer some reassurances to the North, saying the nuclear deal he had in mind for North Korea was not like any other denuclearization model and that Kim would be "very, very happy" if they reached a deal at their upcoming summit.

Still, some news reports suggested Trump, or at least his aides, may be having second thoughts about the U.S.-North Korea summit following the North's renewed rhetoric.

In a meeting with top U.S. security officials here earlier in the day, Moon stressed the need to continue closely negotiating with North Korea.

"President Moon said many people may hold a negative view of North Korea that they may have been deceived while negotiating with North Korea over the past 25 years, but highlighted the fact that the ongoing negotiations are completely different from those of the past in that they directly involve the North's highest leader, who is seeking a security guarantee and economic development and has declared to pursue complete denuclearization for the first time in history," Moon's top press secretary, Yoon Young-chan, said of the meeting that involved U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Moon also urged the U.S. officials to continue preparing for what will be the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit, calling it an "unprecedented, must-not-be-missed" opportunity that could decide the fate of his country and the rest of the world, Yoon added.

"May the South Korea-U.S. alliance for peace and prosperity leave a great footprint in the world history," Moon wrote in the visitors' log shortly after arriving at the White House for his bilateral summit with Trump.

The Moon-Trump summit began with a private meeting where the two leaders were only accompanied by their interpreters, according to Cheong Wa Dae.

They were later joined by other officials for expanded summit talks over lunch at the White House.

The South Korean president was set to head home later in the day.


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