South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Monday that both the United States and North Korea are determined to continue their denuclearization negotiations despite the collapse of their latest summit in Hanoi.
"A temporary difficulty has been created due to the failure to reach an agreement at the second North Korea-U.S. summit, but the fact that South Korea, North Korea and the U.S. all do not wish to go back to the past is clearly being confirmed," the president said in a weekly meeting with his top aides at his office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul.
Moon's remarks come one day after Cheong Wa Dae announced his trip to Washington next week for talks with his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump.
"The upcoming U.S. trip comes as the result of efforts by South Korea and the U.S. to revive the momentum for dialogue at an early date," the president said of his trip, which will begin April 9. He and Trump are set to meet Thursday (Washington time).
"At the upcoming South Korea-U.S. summit, I will hold in-depth discussions with President Trump about ways to enhance South Korea-U.S. cooperation for further progress in the Korean Peninsula peace process that will include the resumption of North Korea-U.S. talks, complete denuclearization of the peninsula and improvements in inter-Korean and North Korea-U.S. relations," he added.
Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in late February, but the second-ever U.S.-North Korea summit ended abruptly when the leaders walked away without signing a much anticipated nuclear deal.
Pyongyang has since claimed Washington had demanded too much for too little.
Moon insisted such a complication had been expected.
"The peace process on the Korean Peninsula is a journey taken jointly by the South, North Korea and the U.S., but it is one that is not easy. Because it is a path that had not been successfully covered over the past 70 years, it would be rather strange if (we) did not experience any ups and downs, difficulties," he told the meeting, according to Cheong Wa Dae pool reports.
The president said the countries have already achieved more in less than a year than anyone else has over the past 70 years.
"Since that journey began, there have been many astonishing changes where conditions on the Korean Peninsula have completely changed," said Moon.
"Because there have been so many developments, it feels as if a lot of time has passed. But when we look back, it has not even been a year since the April 27 inter-Korean summit in Panmunjom," he added, referring to his first summit with the North Korean leader last year in the joint village located inside the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone that divides the two Koreas.
Moon and Kim have since held two more meetings -- in May and September -- with the latest being held in Pyongyang.
"The amazing outcome the past year has made since the two Koreas and the U.S. began their dialogue is a clear reason why we must continue our dialogue," the president said.
He also warned against efforts to downplay or even hinder denuclearization talks with North Korea with apparent purpose of denouncing his administration.
"There are some attempts to create a gap in the South Korea-U.S. alliance and thwart the wave of peace on the Korean Peninsula. (Such attempts) never serve our national interest or the future of the Korean Peninsula," he said.
"Also, when we look back on the urgent situation we faced before the dialogue began, these are truly an irresponsible attempt," he added.(Yonhap)