S.Korean president says open to inter-Korean summit if conditions are met

SEOUL, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday that he is open to meet with Kim Jong Un, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), if it is necessary to improve inter-Korean relations. 

Moon, who took office in May last year, said in his first New Year's press conference that if conditions are met, he will be able to hold an inter-Korean summit meeting at any time. The South Korean leader, however, noted that dialogue for dialogue cannot become a goal of the summit talks, saying conditions should be created and fruits should be secured before holding it.

His comments came a day after South Korea and the DPRK held the first senior-level dialogue in about two years and agreed to hold talks on military affairs to de-escalated tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The DPRK agreed to send its athletes and cheering squads to the South Korea-hosted Winter Olympics, which are slated to run from February to March in the country's eastern county of PyeongChang.

It was a good first step, Moon said, toward improved inter-Korean relations as Pyongyang desirably agreed to send its delegation to the Winter Olympics, which he hoped to become an opportunity to continue inter-Korean dialogue as seen Tuesday.

Moon said improved inter-Korean relations cannot be separated from the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, stressing that the two issues should be pursued simultaneously to create a virtuous cycle between them.

He noted that improved inter-Korean relations will help resolve the DPRK's nuclear issue while the denuclearization efforts will help improve inter-Korean relations. South Korea, Moon said, planned to encourage the DPRK to come to a dialogue table for the denuclearized Korean Peninsula by improving inter-Korean relations. Moon said that if those issues make progress, the resumption of the Kaesong Industrial Complex and the tour to Mount Kumgang can be dealt with.

The inter-Korean industrial zone in the DPRK's border town of Kaesong was closed down by South Korea in February 2016 in response to Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test in the previous month.

The tourism project to the DPRK's scenic resort of Mount Kumgang, launched in 1998, has been suspended since a South Korean female tourist was shot dead in July 2008 by a DPRK soldier after allegedly venturing into an off-limit area.

President Moon said he aimed to denuclearize the Korean peninsula within his five-year presidential term, repeating his stance that the peninsula's nuclear issue should be resolved in a peaceful manner.

Moon said any war must not break out again on the peninsula, stressing that his government's goal of defense and diplomatic policies is to prevent any war from breaking out.

The Korean Peninsula remains technically in a state of war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in armistice, not peace treaty. He said his government will more closely cooperate with the international community, including the United States and China, for the denuclearization efforts, noting that the denuclearized peninsula is a goal and a way to peace.

South Korea and the United States, Moon said, made it clear to make diplomatic efforts to encourage the DPRK to come to a dialogue table for the peninsula's denuclearization. Moon said there has been no difference between South Korea and the United States in that the resumed dialogue between the two Koreas should become an opportunity to improve inter-Korean relations and resolve the DPRK's nuclear issue through dialogues.

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