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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on May 18)

All Headlines 09:20 May 18, 2019

Moon-Trump meeting
:Doubts loom over effectiveness of upcoming summit

President Moon Jae-in will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump late next month, according to Cheong Wa Dae. Trump will be visiting Japan to participate in the G20 summit in Osaka, which starts June 28, but the date of his visit to Seoul has not been fixed yet.

The meeting will be their eighth summit since Moon took office in May 2017. Their latest one took place in Washington on April 11. The upcoming meeting will be crucial as they will be discussing how to deal with North Korea's latest military activities that have significantly derailed the denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang and raised tension once again on the Korean Peninsula.

Much has changed since Moon and Trump met in Washington last month as Pyonyang has gone back to its old ways of resorting to hostile tactics. The North resumed weapons tests this month with leader Kim Jong-un presiding over the launches of short-range missiles. The latest series of provocations are seen as North Korea's show of defiance following the failed second summit between Trump and Kim in February in Vietnam. Both leaders abruptly pulled out of the summit without reaching any agreement on further steps toward North Korea's denuclearization.

Despite the North's undesirable activities, the leaders of South Korea and the U.S. are still showing their determination to continue negotiations with the North Korean leader. Their responses to the provocations were rather restrained, with Trump saying that he did not consider them a "breach of trust." President Moon has also not given up hope on getting together with Kim again, although there has not been any response to his continued call for a summit. Now it seems almost impossible for Kim to honor the agreement last year to reciprocate Moon's visit to Pyongyang. During a TV interview to mark his second anniversary in office, Moon stressed that he will actively seek talks with the North and bring Kim forward for negotiations.

Cheong Wa Dae's national security advisor Chung Eui-yong said the possibility of sending a special envoy to North Korea was still under consideration during a press conference Thursday. Also Chung said that providing food aid to North Korea will proceed as planned for humanitarian reasons regardless of the security situation.

Because of Moon's push for various exchanges with North Korea despite no visible progress on denuclearization, he has been slammed for creating a rift in the U.S.-Korea alliance. He was also criticized during his latest summit with Trump in Washington where the two leaders seemed distant when compared to the seemingly cozy relationship between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Trump.

At a critical juncture on the peninsula, it is crucial for Moon to effectively carry out his role as a mediator. Ahead of the Moon-Trump summit, Seoul should do its best to communicate with the North and try to lead it back to negotiations.
(END)

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