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Pres. Moon to visit U.S. amid looming U.S.-N. Korea talks

Pres. Moon to visit U.S. amid looming U.S.-N. Korea talks

Posted September. 16, 2019 07:32,   

Updated September. 16, 2019 07:32


South Korean President Mon Jae-in will embark on a tour to the U.S. on Sunday to attend the UN General Assembly, which will take place in New York. The president originally considered his absence from this year’s UN General Assembly but has chosen to visit New York instead based on judgment that positive developments have been made for negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear weapons. During his five-day tour to the U.S. Moon will hold a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, and deliver a keynote speech at the UN General Assembly. Pundits carefully foresee the possibility of a summit between South Korea and Japan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

“The government considered a plan for Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon or Foreign Affairs Minister Kang Kyung-hwa to attend this year’s UN General Assembly, but President Moon has decided on his participation by himself,” a source at the presidential office said on Sunday. “A summit between Seoul and Washington has been agreed upon with the White House, and detailed plans are being coordinated.” It is the first time in three months that Seoul and Washington will hold a summit since their last meeting in Seoul late June.

President Moon had been considering his absence from this year’s UN General Assembly since little progress has been made in talks over North Korea’s denuclearization since the Seoul-Pyongyang-Washington summit at Panmunjom in June, while Seoul-Tokyo ties have been at their lowest point. However, the president decided to attend the UN General Assembly in the wake of sudden changes in the mood and environment surrounding talks over Pyongyang’s denuclearization. North Korean first vice minister of foreign affairs Choi Sun Hee’s remarks that “We have an intention to hold dialogue face to face with the U.S.” on Monday last week, and President Trump’s sacking of his hawkish national security adviser John Bolton. “Through a summit with President Trump, President Moon intends to reopen negotiations over the North’s denuclearization through the top-down method once more,” a source in the ruling party in Seoul said.

The upcoming Seoul-Washington summit will be President Moon’s ninth meeting with the U.S. leader since his inauguration. The two leaders are expected to discuss about not only Pyongyang’s denuclearization, but also South Korea’s sharing of defense costs for the upkeep of U.S. troops in South Korea and Seoul’s withdrawal from the General Security of Military Information Agreement with Tokyo, among other hot button issues.

Sang-Jun Han alwaysj@donga.com