Roundup: S.Korea's Moon offers DPRK broader inter-Korean cooperation in 2020

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By Yoo Seungki

SEOUL, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday offered a broader inter-Korean cooperation this year to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), while proposing concerted efforts to create conditions for top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un's visit to Seoul.

"It is very sorry that a bigger advance has not been made in inter-Korean cooperation for the past year," Moon said during his televised New Year's speech at the presidential complex Blue House.

Moon said both South Korea and the DPRK had paid more attention to dialogue between the DPRK and the United States on expectations that the door for an inter-Korean cooperation would be opened more rapidly and broadly if the DPRK-U.S. dialogue succeeds.

Now that the deadlocked talks between Pyongyang and Washington were worried to set back inter-Korean relations, the need to seek "realistic measures" for the broader inter-Korean cooperation was more pressing than ever together with continued efforts for the success of the DPRK-U.S. dialogue, Moon noted.

Moon's comments indicated South Korea's change in the DPRK policy from promoting the denuclearization dialogue between the DPRK and the United States to enhancing cooperation between the two Koreas.

The South Korean president has advocated a so-called virtuous cycle of the improved inter-Korean relations leading to creating an environment favorable to the DPRK-U.S. denuclearization talks.

The second summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump ended without agreement in February last year at the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi. The first Kim-Trump summit was held in Singapore in June 2018 when the two leaders agreed to the complete denuclearization of and the lasting peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula.

Pyongyang and Washington had the working-level denuclearization negotiations in Stockholm in October last year, but it ended without progress.

Amid the stalled DPRK-U.S. negotiations, Moon suggested that the two Koreas would do things first they can for preventing war, securing mutual safety and achieving co-prosperity on the peninsula through cooperation in border regions, sports exchange and economic cooperation.

"(South Korea) suggests the launch of cooperation in border regions for the common security of 80 million (Korean) people. I believe Chairman Kim Jong Un has the same will," Moon said.

Stressing the importance of sports exchange between the two Koreas, Moon brought forward his expectations for DPRK athletes to participate in South Korea-hosted sports events this year such as the first East Asian Weightlifting Championships, set to be held in Seoul from Feb. 26 to March 20, and the world table tennis championships slated to open in the southern port city of Busan on March 22.

The Korean Peninsula peace process started with the DPRK's dispatch of the high-level delegation as well as athletes and cheering squad to the South Korea-hosted PyeongChang Winter Olympics, which was held in early 2018.

Moon offered the DPRK the continued consultations on fielding a unified Korean team for this year's Tokyo Summer Olympics, set to open in late July, and marching together during an opening ceremony.

He reminded the DPRK of the agreement to co-host the 2032 Summer Olympics, which was reached between Moon and Kim during their summit. The two Koreas already delivered their intent to jointly play host to the 2032 Olympics to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

To build a peace economy on the peninsula, Moon suggested to the DPRK making concerted efforts to resume the currently suspended inter-Korean economic cooperation projects, or the Kaesong Industrial Complex and the tours to the DPRK's scenic resort of Mount Kumgang.

The jointly-run factory park in the DPRK's border town of Kaesong and the South Koreans' tour to Mount Kumgang have been halted since 2016 and 2008 respectively.

Moon said that if South Korea and the DPRK can find "realistic" ways to realize a project to reconnect railways and roads across the inter-Korean border, it could lead to international cooperation and back up the resumption of the inter-Korean tour program.

The two Koreas held a groundbreaking ceremony in December 2018 in Kaesong to modernize and link railways and roads along the eastern and western peninsula, but construction works had yet to start due to international sanctions against the DPRK.

Regarding the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), Moon proposed a joint push with the DPRK to register the 250-km-long, 4-km-wide no man's land as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site.

During his UN speech in September last year, Moon offered to transform into an international peace zone the DMZ, which has left the peninsula divided since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with armistice, not peace treaty.

"I have a willingness to repeatedly meet and continuously talk (with the DPRK leader)," said Moon.

Moon expressed his hope that South Korea and the DPRK make joint efforts to create conditions for Kim's reciprocal visit to South Korea as early as possible.

The leaders of the two Koreas held summits three times in 2018. After the latest summit in Pyongyang in September 2018, Kim promised to visit Seoul at an early date. Enditem

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