Seoul, June 15, 2019 (Yonhap News)
Stockholm, June 15 (Yonhap) — The two Koreas are continuously communicating with each other through “various channels,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Saturday amid speculation about whether another inter-Korean summit will be held in the coming weeks.
Moon earlier expressed hope for meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to South Korea at the end of this month.
“Now, communication between South and North is being made through various routes,” Moon said during a post-summit joint press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in Saltsjobaden, a suburb of Stockholm.
Moon noted that all inter-Korean communication channels, including a military hotline, were severed before he took office in May 2017.
He added, however, that under his administration the two Koreas have resumed dialogue and that inter-Korean communication is “always” taking place through various channels. He did not elaborate.
On Washington-Pyongyang talks, Moon stressed the importance of working-level preparations.
“For concrete progress in negotiations between North Korea and the U.S., there needs to be working-level negotiations in advance,” he said.
It’s important to stave off a no-deal summit, like that in Hanoi in late February, he said. He was apparently referring to the significance of sufficient pre-summit talks for the two sides to produce a summit accord on specific denuclearization measures and rewards.
Moon’s remarks indicated that Pyongyang and Washington may be seeking preliminary talks to see if a third summit is possible or desirable.
The so-called top-down approach led to two historic rounds of summits between the two sides. But Trump and Kim left Hanoi without signing any agreement after a two-day meeting due to differences over the scope of denuclearization steps.
Some observers attributed it to inadequate preparatory, working-level discussions between the two sides on what could be agreed to in the summit.
The Swedish prime minister, meanwhile, reaffirmed his country’s full support for the Moon government’s regional peace initiative.
Lofven expressed his appreciation for Moon for working on the “complex and difficult” issue and said Sweden will “never give up” support for peace on the Korean Peninsula.
He added that Stockholm will “do whatever it can do,” although the main players in the process are the two Koreas, the U.S. and the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.