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(LEAD) President heads to U.S. for meeting with Trump over N. Korea

All Headlines 17:48 April 10, 2019

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead to highlight President Moon's departure; REVISES remarks from NSO deputy director in 5th para; ADDS photos)
By Byun Duk-kun

SEOUL, April 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in headed to the United States on Wednesday for talks with his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, on ways to restart U.S.-North Korea dialogue on ending the North's nuclear ambitions.

Moon and Trump will meet Thursday (U.S. time), one day after Moon arrives in Washington, according to the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

The upcoming summit will mark the seventh of its kind since Moon took office in May 2017.

It follows Trump's second and latest summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that collapsed, triggering the ongoing deadlock in the U.S.-North Korea denuclearization talks.

"The upcoming (South Korea-U.S.) summit comes on a joint view that consultation between the two countries is important to quickly revive the momentum for dialogue following the Hanoi summit," Kim Hyun-chong, a deputy director of the National Security Office (NSO) at Cheong Wa Dae, said earlier.

President Moon Jae-in (R) and his wife Kim Jung-sook wave as they depart a military airport in Seongnam, south of Seoul, on April 10, 2019. Moon is scheduled to hold a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House on April 11 (local time). (Yonhap)

The second Trump-Kim meeting was held in the Vietnamese capital in late February.

The NSO official insisted Seoul and Washington completely agreed on the need to completely denuclearize North Korea and how to achieve such a goal.

He said the countries agreed on the need to maintain the so-called top-down approach where the leaders act as main negotiators in denuclearization talks.

However, the U.S. and South Korea apparently hold different views on how to induce North Korea to begin its denuclearization process and maintain its course.

Trump insists the North must and will face sanctions until it fully denuclearizes while Moon stresses a need to offer North Korea at least "phased rewards" to further encourage the impoverished North.

President Moon Jae-in (3rd from L) and his wife Kim Jung-sook walk to board a plane at a military airport in Seongnam, south of Seoul, on April 10, 2019. Moon is scheduled to hold a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House on April 11 (local time). (Yonhap)

A ranking Cheong Wa Dae official said Moon and Trump will likely discuss whether the countries should offer phased rewards to the North when they meet this week, apparently acknowledging a possible gap between the allies and what should be offered to the North in exchange for its denuclearization, and the timing of those concessions.

The U.S.-North Korea denuclearization talks have stalled since the Hanoi summit fell apart.

The Cheong Wa Dae official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, refused to call the Hanoi meeting a failure, calling it "a part of a long process that helped both sides identify what the other side needs and what their future negotiations should look like."

Moon will likely seek to hold dialogue with the North Korean leader following his talks with Trump, who earlier asked the South Korean leader to help facilitate his future dialogue with Kim.

Moon's top security adviser and NSO director Chung Eui-yong has noted the president may also send special envoys to North Korea to deliver his message to Kim.

The president will return home Friday.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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