President Moon Jae-in was presented with the credentials of five new ambassadors to South Korea on Wednesday, including U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris.
The South Korean president welcomed the new U.S. ambassador in a ceremony held at his office Cheong Wa Dae, highlighting the importance of the South Korea-U.S. alliance.
"A strong South Korea-U.S. alliance is more important than ever to realize our mutual objectives on the Korean Peninsula, especially at such an important time of dialogue between the South and the North, and the North and the U.S.," Moon told Harris, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom.
"I expect Ambassador Harris to play a great role," the president was quoted as saying.
It marked Moon's first meeting with the new top diplomat from the United States. Harris arrived here July 7 to replace Mark Lippert, whose term ended in January 2017.
President Moon also welcomed what he called a "good development" in the allies' joint efforts to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons, noting the communist state appears to have begun dismantling its missile test and launch sites.
"The intelligence offices of our two countries believe North Korea is dismantling its missile engine test site and missile launch site, following its dismantlement of its nuclear test site," Moon said, according to the spokesman. "It is a good sign for the denuclearization of North Korea."
Harris said his country too was looking forward to the dismantlement of the missile test sites and the return of the remains of U.S. soldiers killed in the Korean War, which he said will be a token of sincerity from the North to honor its leader Kim Jong-un's agreement with U.S. President Donald Trump.
The two leaders met in Singapore on June 12 for the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit that followed two inter-Korean summits between Moon and Kim, held April 27 and May 26.
Moon expressed hope that denuclearization talks between the U.S. and North Korea will further accelerate following the return of the remains of U.S. troops.
Wednesday's ceremony also involved four other new ambassadors to South Korea.
They are Philip Turner from New Zealand, Frode Solberg from Norway, Peter Lescouhier from Belgium and Alfred Xuereb from the Vatican. (yonhap)