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Moon works to secure NK leader’s visit to Seoul during G-20 summit

South Korean President Moon Jae-in. AP

SEOUL — With President Moon Jae-in having wrapped up the G-20 summit following a meeting with US President Donald Trump, hopes are high that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s visit to Seoul will materialize before the end of the year.

Moon was expected to arrive in New Zealand on Sunday for a three-day state visit after leaving Argentina, where he attended the Group of 20 summit.

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During his three-day stay in Buenos Aires, Moon held a series of meetings with world leaders to rally support for diplomatic efforts to denuclearize North Korea.

During his meeting with Trump on Friday, Moon discussed the idea of Kim’s visit to Seoul. The North Korean leader had pledged to come to the South Korean capital during his most recent summit meeting with Moon in Pyongyang in September.

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“Both leaders agreed that Kim’s visit to Seoul would provide additional momentum for mutual efforts to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula,” said Moon’s chief press secretary Yoon Young-chan after the Moon-Trump summit.

The prospect of Kim’s visit to Seoul had been in doubt amid the stalled denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington, with the two sides in a deadlock over who should make the first move since Kim and Trump held their first summit in June.

Last month, US State Secretary Mike Pompeo’s planned meeting with a senior North Korean official was canceled at the last minute. The meeting was supposed to be held in New York to discuss the second Trump-Kim summit.

But skepticism over the second Trump-Kim summit appears to be have cleared, as Trump told Moon that he wants to follow up on his historic June summit in Singapore. The US president said Saturday that he is likely to meet Kim in January or February, and that three sites for their second meeting are under consideration.

“We’re getting along very well. We have a good relationship,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on his return trip from the G-20 summit in Argentina, adding he would invite Kim to the US “at some point,” according to Reuters.

In an interview with CNN on Saturday, Pompeo said the second US-North Korea summit would take place “shortly after the first of the year,” without giving details.

With the US offering a more specific timeline for the second meeting between Kim and Trump, analysts urged Moon to assume the role of an “honest broker” that he had played before the Singapore summit.

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Moon was credited for helping the US and North Korea arrange their first summit after Trump abruptly canceled the meeting in May.

Days after the cancellation, Moon held his second summit with Kim and helped him proceed with his meeting with Trump.

“As he promised, President Moon should invite Kim to Seoul and convince him” of making headway in the stalled denuclearization talks, former Unification Minster Jeong Se-hyun said during a meeting with liberal politicians on Saturday.

“If the US and North Korea continue to be left to break the stalemate by themselves, there will never be a compromise. Both parties don’t want to look like they are giving in. That’s why Moon should meet with Kim.”

During the G-20 summit in Argentina, Moon met with world leaders to rally their support for South Korea’s diplomatic efforts to denuclearize North Korea and encourage the isolated country to open up.

Moon agreed to enhance bilateral efforts to denuclearize North Korea after meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Saturday.

The Netherlands is a rotating member of the UN Security Council and chair of the North Korea sanctions committeeSouth African President Cyril Ramaphosa also met with Moon on the sidelines of the Group of 20 meeting.

In 1993, South Africa scrapped its nuclear program voluntarily after the end of the Cold War and the dismantlement of the apartheid regime.

“Given South Africa’s experience of voluntarily abandoning its nuclear program for the sake of regional security, its denuclearization process can be a good model for North Korea,” Moon was quoted as saying by spokesperson Yoon.

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TAGS: Asia, G-20 summit, North korea, Politics, South korea
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