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Should Korean Leaders Discuss Nuclear Issue or Military Tensions?

FILE - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in applaud after their joint announcement at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, Friday, April 27, 2018. The two will meet again on Sept. 18 in the North's capital. (Korea Summit Press Pool via AP)
Should Korean Leaders Discuss Nuclear Issue or Military Tensions?
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are preparing to meet Tuesday in the North’s capital.

It will be their third meeting since April. The talks are to last three days.

The meeting comes a week after North and South Korea expanded military talks and opened a joint communications office near the border. Those are the most recent in a series of steps both sides have taken to reduce tensions.

Observers say the talks this week are likely to build on the Panmunjom Declaration. The declaration is a set of goals the Korean leaders agreed to at their first meeting on April 27.

Moon Chung-in is special advisor to the South Korean President for Unification, Foreign Affairs and National Security.

On Thursday, Moon said the meeting would continue the ideas that resulted in the Panmunjom Declaration. He added that the president “believes that improved inter-Korean relations have some role in facilitating US-DPRK (North Korea) talks and solving the North Korean nuclear problem.”

The nuclear issue and military tensions

Cheon Seong Whun is a researcher with the Asan Institute for Political Studies in Seoul. He said the international community should pay attention to the nuclear issue. He also said it remains to be seen if North Korea’s leader “is really willing to give up nuclear weapons” and return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That international agreement, first signed in 1968, is meant to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.

However, Kim Dong-yub of Kyung Nam University says nuclear weapons are not the most important issue right now. He said the goal of the Pyongyang talks should be to put an end to military conflict between the North and South. Kim said it is likely that the meeting will mainly deal with military issues.

The opening of the joint inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong was one of the measures noted in the Panmunjom Declaration. A spokesman for the South Korean president’s office called it “a stout bridge connecting the two Koreas.”

Some observers, however, believe it will take time to build trust between the sides.

‘Bold decision’ needed?

Last week, Moon Jae-in said a lot depends on Kim Jong Un and United States President Donald Trump. He said that they would need to make “bold decisions” to remove nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula.

“North Korea should abolish its nuclear program and the United States should foster such conditions with corresponding action,” Moon said.

He spoke after U.S. officials announced that Trump had received a letter from Kim seeking a second meeting between the two sides. Trump and Kim met in Singapore on June 12.

A Trump administration spokesperson said that a second meeting “is something that we want to take place.”

Later in the week, Moon Chung-in suggested that the North Korean leader should make a bold move on his own.

One possibility might be to surrender 15 to 20 nuclear weapons and missiles. In return, the U.S. could remove economic restrictions on the North, or possibly establish a liaison office in Pyongyang and negotiate an official end to the Korean War.

I’m Mario Ritter.

Steve Miller reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted his report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

role – n. a part that someone or something has in an activity or situation

facilitate – v. to help something run more smoothly or effectively

liaison – n. a relationship that allows different organizations or groups to work together and provide information to each other

stout – adj. thick and strong

bold – adj. showing or needing confidence or lack of fear

abolish – v. to officially end or stop

foster – v. to help grow or develop

corresponding – adj. matching something else

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