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Moon advisor anticipates 'new possibilities' with Kim's letter to Trump

All Headlines 11:10 June 12, 2019

By Song Sang-ho

SEOUL, June 12 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's letter sent to U.S. President Donald Trump this week could open up "new possibilities" in relations between the two countries, a special advisor to President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday.

Moon Chung-in, a special presidential advisor and Yonsei University professor, made the remarks after Trump said Tuesday that Kim sent him a "beautiful" and "very warm" letter, the first known correspondence since their no-deal summit in Hanoi in February.

"I don't know the content of the letter, but I think that new possibilities between the North and the United States could open up considering that there had not been any dialogue or contact (between them since the Hanoi summit)," Moon said during a forum on the South Korea-U.S. alliance.

"That (letter) is considerably heartening. ... There have been difficulties after the Hanoi setback, but I forecast that there may be (talks) between the South and the U.S., between the South and the North, and between the North and the U.S.," he added.

Moon Chung-in, a special presidential advisor and Yonsei University professor, speaks during a forum on the South Korea-U.S. alliance in Seoul on June 12, 2019. (Yonhap)

Trump has told reporters at the White House that he got the letter, which he called "very personal, very warm, very nice," on Monday. He did not disclose the content of the message but repeated that he thinks the North has "tremendous potential" under Kim's leadership.

The Hanoi summit broke down due to a failure to bridge gaps over the extent of Pyongyang's denuclearization and Washington's sanctions relief. Since the summit, nuclear negotiations between the two sides have been stalled.

The North has been hardening its rhetoric against the U.S., demanding that Washington show flexibility in its hard-line position.

It has also been seen as escalating tensions through weapons tests, including the launch last month of short-range missiles, stoking fears that peace efforts could be put in jeopardy.

Yet Kim's letter underscored his will to maintain dialogue with the U.S., while Trump has also indicated his commitment to engagement with the North.

During the forum, the presidential advisor also called for the "strategic and flexible" application of sanctions, saying that in his "personal" view as a scholar, the U.S.' stance that it will not ease sanctions until the North's complete denuclearization is "unrealistic."

"The North regards the sanctions as a concrete sign of (the U.S.') hostile intent or action (against the regime)," Moon said. "I personally think that sanctions for the sake of sanctions would not be that effective."

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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