Moon said he hoped for speedy progress in talks between the United States and North Korea, with steps by Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear programmes matched by "corresponding comprehensive measures" from Washington.
Speaking at a ceremony marking Korea's independence from the 1910-45 Japanese colonial rule 73 years ago on the day, he renewed his commitment to end the division of the Koreas, saying "true liberation" can only be achieved when the two countries establish a lasting peace and economic community. At the Panmunjom summit, Kim also agreed to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The rapid rapprochement between the two neighbours that began this year paved the way for a landmark meeting between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June.
The challenge of scheduling such a meeting between Kim and Moon in September underscored the fraught history between the sides.
Reacting to the speech, one South Korean expert said Moon's comments can be positively assessed in the sense that they showed an "active approach toward North Korean issues".
The U.S. insists that North Korea completely disarm its nuclear and missile weapons before it receives any economic concessions. South Korea's Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, leading the delegation from Seoul, said it was important that the two Koreas keep "the same mind".
"I can tell you that conversations with the government of North Korea are becoming a far more normal matter, and that is exactly why we won't be reading out every detail, every time we meet with them, every phone conversation or email that we exchange with them", she continued. It can not proceed with potential economic projects, such as those being discussed with South Korea and others, while still technically a belligerent and subject to crippling United Nations sanctions.
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This week, U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris repeated the Trump administration's position.
Moon said he intends to play an active role in moving the denuclearization progress forward.
Pyongyang claims Washington must first make a stronger effort to build confidence and assure its security before denuclearization can occur.
Once peace is established, Moon said that other economic projects would be pursued, including the creation of special economic zones in South Korean provinces that border the North. He mentioned the resumption of joint tours to North Korea's scenic Diamond Mountain resort, restarting operations at a joint factory park in North Korea's Kaesong and also potential projects surrounding inter-Korean railways and development of North Korea's natural resources. The summit will be in Pyongyang, though the exact date has not been announced.
But the North Korean leadership has reason to act with urgency on the issue of an official peace treaty. Fighting stopped in 1953 with an armistice agreement.
She noted North Korea's recent release of the remains of USA servicemen who died during the Korean War in the early 1950s as a sign of progress. North Korea's state-run Rodong Sinmun on Thursday called such a declaration a necessary first step toward fulfillment of that deal.