Moon Appeals to Malaysia to Back Easing Sanctions Against N.Korea

  • By Lee Min-seok

    March 14, 2019 14:10

    President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday asked Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to help encourage North Korea to play a more responsible role as a member of the global community.

    Meeting the nonagenarian comeback kid of Malaysian politics in Kuala Lumpur, Moon stressed the importance of North Korea entering the international community.

    "Moon actively appealed to Malaysia, which has normalized diplomatic ties with North Korea, that improvement of inter-Korean relations and easing of sanctions are vital to persuade North Korea to denuclearize," a presidential spokesman said.

    Mahathir only said he expects relations between the two Koreas to improve further.

    Neither Moon nor Mahathir mentioned Malaysia's sudden release of an Indonesian suspect in the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at Kuala Lumpur airport in 2017.

    President Moon Jae-in (left) and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad smile during a joint press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Wednesday. /Yonhap

    Critics say the South Korean government is deliberately turning a blind eye to the assassination, which was almost certainly orchestrated by North Korea.

    Only a day earlier, the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur had been defaced with graffiti saying, "Down with Kim Jong-un."

    The two leaders also agreed to push for a bilateral free trade agreement within this year. Although South Korea has an FTA with ASEAN, of which Malaysia is a member, there is no separate bilateral FTA.

    "We will work to complete the deal by the South Korea-ASEAN summit in November," a Cheong Wa Dae official said.

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