Striving to jump-start the slow-going Korea peace process, South Korean President Moon Jae-in called overtly for North Korea's substantive denuclearization on Friday.
Addressing the Parliament House in the Swedish capital, he pressed Pyongyang to continue dialogue, either bilateral or multilateral, until it wins the trust of the international community.
"Peace can be realized only through peaceful means, which is dialogue. It is dialogue, not nuclear arms, that will keep North Korea secure," Moon said.
He stressed that, "North Korea must substantially show to the international community its commitment to completely dismantling its nuclear weapons and to establishing a peace regime."
The remarks constituted one of Moon's most significant calls in recent months for the communist neighbor to take denuclearization steps.
He met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un three times last year alone. Kim stated Pyongyang's commitment to full denuclearization.
But skepticism persists about the secretive country's denuclearization. Kim refused to accept U.S. President Donald Trump's "big deal" demand in their two-day Hanoi summit in late February.
Moon, credited with having initiated summit-driven peace talks through his warm attitude to Pyongyang, is now seeking to broker or facilitate the resumption of Washington-Pyongyang negotiations.
North Korea was not the only target audience of his Stockholm speech, a sort of a sequel to his Oslo Forum speech earlier this week and one in Berlin in July 2017.
He sent an indirect message to Washington, saying, "Each side's political system must be mutually respected and guaranteed."
In case North Korea takes the path of dialogue, he added, nobody would threaten its political system or security, as trust-based dialogue will be the means to resolve every problem.
He assured Pyongyang that sanctions against North Korea will be lifted immediately should it make sincere efforts for denuclearization.
Apparently mindful of conservatives' criticisms at home of his North Korea policy, the liberal president also delivered a message to South Koreans.
"Trust should be mutual ... The people of the South must believe in dialogue with the North," he emphasized.
He added, "Those who distrust dialogue slow down the progress in peace."
During the post-speech Q&A session, Moon reaffirmed that the ultimate goal of the ongoing Korean peace process is to achieve the complete denuclearization of the peninsula.
If realized, he said, it would provide a foundation for a firm global nonproliferation regime.
Once such denuclearization is attained, the two Koreas will work toward the mutual disarmament of conventional weapons, Moon said in response to a question from a member of the Riksdag.
He added that the momentum of dialogue is being maintained as informal contacts "beneath the surface" between the two Koreas and the U.S. and North Korea are going on.
Moon's choice of Sweden as the venue to deliver this message was symbolic and deliberate.
Sweden has three official missions on the Korean Peninsula -- in Seoul, Pyongyang and the truce village of Panmunjom inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
The Scandinavian country serves as a "protecting power" in North Korea for American citizens.
North Korea "shows confidence in Sweden's neutrality and impartiality," according to Moon.
He also cited Sweden's decision to give up its nuclear program, which it began after World War II.
"It was truly a Swedish decision to propose and implement peaceful arms reduction, rather than resort to nuclear arms, to stand against new threats of war," he noted.
It offers a lesson for North Korea, Moon said, adding that Swedish people had their conviction that the world would choose "prosperity through peace" eventually. (Yonhap)