SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he wants to hold more summits with South Korea’s Moon Jae-in next year to achieve the goal of denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, Moon’s office said on Sunday (Dec 30).
Kim sent a letter to Moon on Sunday to commemorate the dramatic detente they engineered this year, including three summits, after years of confrontation marked by a series of the North’s nuclear and missile tests.
But stalled nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington had an impact on inter-Korean ties, with the South’s plan to host Kim in Seoul this year – as agreed at his summit with President Moon Jae-in in Pyongyang in September – going unanswered by the North.
READ: Kim offers to visit Seoul ‘any time if you invite me’: South Korea
Kim vowed to work towards denuclearisation at his landmark summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June but the two sides have since made little progress, struggling to reschedule a high-level meeting abruptly called off in November.
Kim said in the letter that he was sorry his visit to Seoul did not take place, expressing his “strong resolve” to make it happen in the future while monitoring the situation, Moon’s office said.
“Chairman Kim said he is willing to meet often with President Moon next year to move forward discussions on peace and prosperity and resolve the issue of denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula,” Moon’s spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said in a statement.
Moon welcomed the latest message, saying Kim had also expressed “active intention to carry out agreements” made in his previous summits with the US and the South, without elaborating further.
“I welcome chairman Kim’s intention to solve together the issue of denuclearisation…by meeting frequently even next year,” Moon said in a statement.
The two neighbours technically remain at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended with a ceasefire instead of a peace treaty.
Moon – a dovish former human rights lawyer – has advocated dialogue to push the impoverished but nuclear-armed North toward denuclearisation.
Cross-border ties improved markedly in 2018 as Kim made a series of reconciliatory gestures – including a historic summit with US President Donald Trump in June in Singapore.
But progress in pushing the North to give up its atomic arsenal has stalled as Washington and Pyongyang accused each other of dragging their feet and acting in bad faith.
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Critics say North Korea has made no concrete commitments and is unlikely to surrender its nuclear weapons, while Washington’s policy of maintaining pressure through isolation and sanctions has left Pyongyang seething.
Trump said last week that he was “looking forward” to his second summit with Kim, which the US says may take place early next year.