South Korean President Moon Jae-in called on Friday on the United States to move towards the nuclear-armed North’s demands for a declaration the Korean War is over, as the allies pursue increasingly different approaches towards Pyongyang.
Washington has shied away from a formal announcement that the 1950-53 conflict, when hostilities ceased with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, has ended, saying that the North must first take more steps towards giving up its atomic arsenal.
The comments, made ahead of Moon’s departure on Saturday for a tour of European capitals, emphasise the increasing differences between Seoul and Washington, which has 28,500 troops stationed in the South to defend it from its neighbour.
But Moon said Kim understood denuclearisation meant more than closing testing facilities.
It also included “dismantling facilities that produce nuclear weapons and develop missiles”, he said, “and it includes everything else, such as getting rid of existing nuclear weapons and nuclear materials”.
Moon has dangled large investment and joint cross-border projects as incentives for steps towards denuclearisation, with Seoul opening a joint liaison office in the North Korean border city of Kaesong last month and promising to pursue cross-border road and rail projects.
Moon expected Kim and Trump to make “bold agreements” in the upcoming summit, he told the BBC, adding he remained “very optimistic” about their talks.
Seoul said separately that the two Koreas will hold high-level talks at the border on Monday to discuss how to implement the agreements made at last month’s Pyongyang summit, when Moon and Kim vowed to meet again in Seoul “at an early date”.