October 23, 2018 12:45
President Moon Jae-in has told his staff not to worry that his hopes for a visit to Seoul by North Korea leader Kim Jong-un are being delayed. Moon had hoped that Kim would visit before the end of the year and the U.S. and North Korea formally declare an end to the Korean War before Kim's visit.
But a second U.S.-North Korea summit will probably not happen until January, and it is unclear if and when such a declaration will be made, so Kim's Seoul visit may have to wait.
Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said Monday, "We hope that a second U.S.-North Korea summit will happen smoothly and Kim will visit Seoul as scheduled too."
He claimed a news report saying there will be no North Korea-U.S. summit before January simply "quoted an anonymous U.S. administration official, which is hardly a definite statement. Currently, there are various discussions about the next U.S.-North Korea summit, and we need to wait and see."
"If the war is declared officially over ahead of Kim's visit to Seoul, his visit will be more meaningful and the two Koreas can have more profound dialogue and reach more consensus," he added.
Cheong Wa Dae also denied that it is at loggerheads with the U.S. over the easing of sanctions on the North and reconnecting railways and roads between the two Koreas.
"It's possible that there are diverse opinions in the U.S. too," a senior Cheong Wa Dae official said. "Despite some difference in processes, we are working towards the same goal." "On the contrary," the official added. "We're helping the U.S."
The implication seems to be that Seoul is talking about easing sanctions on Washington's behalf because the U.S. cannot officially bring it up, or that a kind of good cop-bad cop scenario is being played out by the allies.
"Moon is optimistic about the current situation," the official added. "He says, 'Don't worry' when staff express concerns. It seems that he has confidence that he's doing the right thing within a larger framework no matter how much time it will take."
On a trip to Europe last week, Moon brought up easing sanctions against the North with the leaders of France, the U.K. and Germany, but all of them stressed the need to keep sanctions in place until denuclearization.
But the official said, "His Europe trip was successful... more successful than expected."
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