Asia/Pacific

South Korean leader pushes Biden to restart nuclear talks with North, knocks Trump

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South Korea’s president called for President Biden to restart negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear program in an interview published Wednesday, calling the matter an issue of survival for his country while criticizing former President Trump.

In a discussion with The New York Times, President Moon Jae-in warned that the U.S. should engage with North Korea’s government before Pyongyang was able to “capitalize” on growing tensions between Washington and Beijing.

“I hope that Biden will go down as a historic president that has achieved substantive and irreversible progress for the complete denuclearization and peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula,” he said from Seoul’s Blue House.

“If tensions between the United States and China intensify, North Korea can take advantage of it and capitalize on it,” Moon added.

Moon also offered criticism for Trump’s negotiation efforts in the interview, citing Trump’s failure to obtain significant concessions from North Korea before pulling away from the talks, which stalled after several historic meetings between Trump and Kim Jong Un.

“He beat around the bush and failed to pull it through,” Moon said, referring to Trump. “The most important starting point for both governments is to have the will for dialogue and to sit down face to face at an early date.”

The building blocks for future negotiations, he added, however, had been put in place by the previous administration.

“I believe that if we build on what President Trump has left, we will see this effort come to fruition under Biden’s leadership,” he said, according to the Times.

Such negotiations were a “matter of survival” for the South, he added.

The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.

Moon’s comments are some of the most extensive remarks regarding the North that a South Korean leader has given to a U.S. news outlet in years. Coming so soon into Biden’s first term, the interview underscores the urgency with which the South is looking to the U.S. to find a resolution to North Korea’s repeated nuclear provocations.

The North conducted its first missile test under Biden’s administration just a few weeks ago, though it did not involve a weapons system covered by U.S. sanctions, according to two senior U.S. officials.

Tags denuclearization Donald Trump Joe Biden Kim Jong Un Korean Peninsula Missile test North Korea South Korea
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