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Biden, Moon voice willingness to engage with N.Korea

US President Joe Biden and his visiting South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in have voiced willingness to engage with Pyongyang, while reaffirming the goal to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

Updated May 22, 2021 08:48 AM

Biden, Moon voice willingness to engage with N.Korea

Moon is the second foreign leader, after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in April, to make an official working visit to the White House after Biden became the President in January, reports Xinhua news agency.

During a joint press conference at the White House following their meeting on Friday, Biden said he and Moon discussed the shared approach towards North Korea.

"Our two nations also share a willingness to engage diplomatically with North Korea, to take pragmatic steps that will reduce tensions as we move toward our ultimate goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," he said.

"We're under no illusions how difficult this is, none whatsoever," Biden told reporters. "And the past four administrations have not achieved the objective. It's an incredibly difficult objective."

Biden announced that career diplomat Sung Kim will act as the US Special Envoy for North Korea to drive diplomatic efforts.

Moon, in his remarks, called achieving complete denuclearization and permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula as the "most urgent common task" that the two allies must undertake.

He noted that Biden expressed support for the inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation.

"Under close cooperation with the US, we will work to facilitate progress in inter-Korean relations, so as to achieve a virtuous cycle with US-North Korea dialogue."

Biden did not rule out a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, but stressed a precondition of the meeting would be Pyongyang's commitment to discussing its nuclear weapons.

The two leaders also discussed cooperation on issues of regional security, emerging technology, climate change, and Covid-19 vaccines.

The two countries have agreed to establish a comprehensive vaccine partnership, and the US will provide vaccinations for 550,000 South Korean troops working in close contact with American forces.

The Biden administration at the end of April completed its policy review towards North Korea.

The White House said that it had reached out to Pyongyang through several channels but had not yet received any response.

Kim and former US President Donald Trump held their first summit in Singapore in June 2018, agreeing on a complete denuclearization of and a lasting peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula.

Denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington have been stalled since the second Kim-Trump summit ended without agreement in February 2019 in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi.

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