UPDATE : 2018.11.13 TUE 10:48
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Moon, Trump reaffirm close cooperation on N. Korea in phone talks

South Korean President Moon Jae-in assured his American counterpart, Donald Trump, on Friday that his government will be in lockstep with Washington on summit diplomacy with North Korea.

In his 35-minute phone conversation with Trump, Moon stressed the importance of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, according to Yoon Young-chan, Moon's senior press secretary.

It's "the most important goal and process in order to secure peace in the world, let alone the Korean Peninsula," the president was quoted as saying.

Moon added, "Our firm stance is that (we) can't make concessions (on the issue) under any circumstances and conditions."

Moon agreed to coordinate closely "at each stage" as he is scheduled to meet with the North's leader, Kim Jong-un, at the truce village of Panmunjom in late April. The two sides have yet to set a date for what would be the third inter-Korean summit.

Trump also plans to hold talks with Kim by May.

Moon told Trump that he will try to lay the groundwork for the success of the Kim-Trump summit.

"We will make thorough preparations with regard to worries stemming from failures in the past," Moon said.

The White House also noted the two leaders' resolve to make sure the North upholds its commitments. Past agreements to freeze the regime's nuclear weapons program in exchange for aid ultimately broke down.

"Both leaders affirmed the importance of learning from the mistakes of the past, and pledged continued, close coordination to maintain maximum pressure on the North Korean regime," it said in a readout, referring to economic and diplomatic sanctions on the North.

"The two leaders agreed that concrete actions, not words, will be the key to achieving permanent denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and President Trump reiterated his intention to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by the end of May," it added.

Moon and Trump expressed "cautious optimism" over the recent developments and "emphasized that a brighter future is available for North Korea, if it chooses the correct path."

They also exchanged views on trade issues in their second phone conversation in two weeks, according to the South.

Trump expressed hope that South Korea will show some flexibility in upcoming negotiations on the bilateral free trade agreement.

Moon raised the issue of the Trump administration's move to curb steel imports from South Korea, citing the need to demonstrate the strength of the alliance at a critical time for the security of Northeast Asia.

Hours earlier, Moon talked with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by phone for 45 minutes and expressed support for a possible summit between Abe and the North's leader.

Moon said improved ties between Pyongyang and Tokyo will be conducive to resolving the North Korea issue.

Moon and Abe agreed to work together to resolve pending issues between the North and Japan, including the issue of Japanese nationals kidnapped by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s. (Yonhap)

Lee Sam-sun  edt@koreapost.com

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