Moon vows close cooperation with Biden for Korea peace progress

Jan 22, 2021, 09:09 am

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President Moon Jae-in speaks during a plenary session of the National Security Council (NSC) at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Jan. 21, 2021./ Source: Yonhap News

AsiaToday reporter Lee Jang-won 

President Moon Jae-in said Thursday that South Korea would work closely with the Biden administration to advance the peace process on the Korean Peninsula. The president also sent a letter of congratulations to U.S. President Joe Biden on his inauguration, and expressed hope for a meeting with Biden in the near future to have a “candid dialogue” on issues of mutual concern.

The president chaired a National Security Council (NSC) meeting at Cheong Wa Dae to intensively discuss diplomatic, unification and security strategies in response to the launch of the Biden administration. It was the first known NSC meeting chaired by Moon in nearly two years. He convened the previous one to discuss a strategy following the no-deal Hanoi summit between the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea in late February 2019. The latest meeting indicates the president is willing to make a breakthrough in diplomatic issues, including Seoul-Washington relations, in the Biden era.

In particular, Moon strongly expressed his willingness to restart the peace process on the Korean Peninsula, saying, “The peace process on the Korean Peninsula is a must, not an option.” As Moon realigned foreign affairs and security officials on Wednesday, by naming former national security adviser Chung Eui-yong as the new foreign minister, the latest NSC meeting indicates that Moon would put a great emphasis on issues involving the Korean Peninsula in diplomacy with the U.S.

Moon ordered the ministries of the government to cooperate with each other and proactively make efforts as the “masters of the fate of the Korean Peninsula” in order to resume talks between Washington and Pyongyang as well as the two Koreas. 

Moon also made remarks on China, Japan, and Russia, making it clear that he would take the lead in diplomacy with the four powers surrounding the Korean Peninsula, while strengthening cooperation with the Biden administration at the same time. “It is time to make the current transition period as our time by strengthening the Seoul-Washington alliance and further developing cooperative ties with neighboring nations,” Moon said. 

Above all, Moon mentioned China as South Korea’s “largest trading partner and a major partner in promoting peace on the Korean Peninsula.” The president said the two countries have to build a foundation to move toward a developed relationship in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations in 2022. His remark indicates that South Korea would pursue practical interest amid conflicts between Washington and Beijing. 

Moon also expressed his willingness to restore its relationship with the U.S. which has been strained over defense cost-sharing issue, saying, “We will develop the ROK-US alliance into a responsible alliance and raise the level of cooperation.” As there are observations that the S. Korea-US summit, usually held in May or June after the inauguration of the new US administration, may be accelerated, and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to South Korea is also being promoted, attention is now focused on which country would be holding a summit with South Korea first. 

During the meeting, Moon received a report from the foreign, defense and unification ministries on 2021 policy direction and goals.

#Moon Jae-in #Biden administration #NSC meeting #peace process 
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