President Moon pledges path to peace
SEOUL: South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in early January that he will pursue an “irreversible path to peace” on the Korean Peninsula until his term ends, calling for dialogue and cooperation with North Korea. In his final New Year’s address as President, Mr Moon admitted Seoul still has a long way to go to improve inter-Korean relations, despite many achievements during his five-year term that started in 2017, reports Yonhap News Agency.
“I will not stop efforts to institutionalize sustainable peace,” Mr Moon said in the nationally televised address, adding that South Korea will make final efforts for normalization of inter-Korean relations and a path toward irreversible peace. By institutionalizing peace, Mr Moon appeared to be referring to his initiative to adopt a declaration with North Korea and other countries of a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War as part of efforts to kickstart long-stalled talks with Pyongyang. “If we resume dialogue and cooperation, the international community will respond. The government will pursue normalization of inter-Korean relations and an irreversible path to peace until the end. I hope efforts for dialogue will continue in the next administration too.”
Mr Moon’s speech came after North Korea wrapped up a key party meeting but stopped short of providing the outside world with fresh clues to its key policies related to inter-Korean ties and denuclearization talks with the US.
Denuclearization negotiations between the US and the North have remained stalled since the two countries’ no-deal Hanoi summit in 2019. “Peace is an essential prerequisite for prosperity. But, peace tends to be shaken if it is not institutionalized,” the President added in his address. With the Covid-19 pandemic entering its third year, Mr Moon expressed his gratitude toward public health workers for their hard work during the pandemic, while offering condolences to those who died of the disease. The President said he “will make the year 2022 the first year of normalization by fully recovering from the crisis”. However, he warned against complacency due to concerns about the highly-transmissible Omicron variant. Mr Moon’s single, five-year term ends in May and the presidential election will be held on March 9. Mr Moon said he hopes the upcoming presidential election will become “an election for unity that includes people’s hope, not confrontation, hatred and division”.