SEOUL, Feb 20, 2019, Hankyoreh. The Blue House announced that, during a telephone call with US President Donald Trump on the evening of Feb. 19, South Korean President Moon Jae-in asked Trump to “make full use of South Korea’s role in any corresponding measures that can lead North Korea to take steps toward denuclearization.” This phone call, which took place eight days before the second North Korea-US summit in Hanoi, began at 10 pm and lasted for around 35 minutes, reported the Hankyoreh.
In a press release issued by Blue House Spokesperson Kim Eui-kyum, Moon was quoted as saying during the telephone call that South Korea is “prepared to connect inter-Korean roads and railroads and to carry out inter-Korean economic cooperation projects” if Trump asks it to take on that role. “That would be a way to reduce the burden on the US,” Moon asserted, essentially reemphasizing Seoul’s role as a mediator and facilitator between North Korea and the US.
After praising Trump for continuing his new and bold diplomatic efforts for peace on the Korean Peninsula, Moon also said he expects “the summit in Hanoi next week to be a major turning point in achieving specific progress on complete denuclearization, a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula and the development of North Korea-US relations, based on the agreement reached during the historic Singapore summit last June.”
During the phone call, Kim said, Trump explained to Moon the current state of preparations for the Hanoi summit and the tenor of deliberations with North Korea. Kim also said that the two leaders had a candid and wide-ranging discussion about concrete ways to cooperate on the success of the second North Korea-US summit.
According to Kim, Trump promised to call Moon and let him know the results of the summit in Hanoi as soon as it was over. Trump also reportedly said that he expects the Hanoi summit to have major results and that he looks forward to meeting Moon in person to fill him in on the outcome. While returning to the US aboard Air Force One after his first summit with North Korea in June 2018, Trump called Moon to tell him about the outcome of the summit.
During the telephone call on Tuesday, Moon said, “I think that it’s thanks to your leadership and firm resolve that we’ve been able to come this far in the difficult negotiations with North Korea. It’s also thanks to your strong support that we’ve achieved major progress in inter-Korean relations.”
Moon also expressed his respect to Trump for “overcoming the diplomatic failure of not getting anywhere during 25 years of negotiations while allowing North Korea to strengthen its nuclear and missile capabilities” and for “seeking a diplomatic strategy for achieving the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and building a lasting peace regime.”
By Kim Bo-hyeop, staff reporter