South Korean President Moon Jae-in suggested Saturday that he is not ready to meet North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un for talks, arguing that it is too early for an inter-Korean summit.
When Kim’s sister Kim Yo Jong visited South Korea for the start of the Winter Olympics, she met with Moon and delivered a message from her brother that he is willing to meet. Both North and South Korea “should accomplish this by creating the right conditions,” Moon replied at the time of the invitation, according to Yonhap News Agency.
“There are high expectations and our hearts seem to be getting impatient. It is like the old saying, seeking a scorched-rice water from a well,” Moon said Saturday in response to questions about a possible summit meeting with the North Korean dictator, using a Korean proverb that refers to the dangers of rushing into things without fully understanding the consequences, CNN reported.
His remarks reveal a certain degree of hesitancy.
Were the North and South to hold a summit, it would be the first such meeting in over a decade. Former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun met former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in 2007. The current South Korean president served in Roh’s administration, explaining his tendency to embrace the cooperative sunshine policies of his liberal predecessors.
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Moon, who has been criticized for bending over backwards to accommodate North Korea, heralded the progress that has already been made toward inter-Korean peace.
“I hope that this will lead to an improvement in inter-Korean relations — not only inter-Korean relations, but we also believe that there has been slowly, but gradually, a growing consensus on the need for dialogue between the United States and North Korea,” Moon said Saturday.
“We hope that the dialogue between the two Koreas will be able to lead to dialogue between the United States and North Korea, and eventually denuclearization,” he added.
Vice President Mike Pence recently revealed that the U.S. is ready to talk to North Korea, possibly even without preconditions. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, however, says it might be too early. Regardless, the U.S. has indicated that it intends to continue its maximum pressure campaign against the North.
North Korea has signaled that it is not interested in discussing denuclearization and has even stated that it plans to continue to expand and improve its state nuclear force. Pyongyang has also stated that it is not interested in talking to the U.S., which the rogue regime considers to be the greatest threat to its ambitions.
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