The United States has signaled a desire to resume stalled nuclear talks with North Korea by appointing a special envoy, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday.
“The appointment of a special envoy to North Korea by the United States is tantamount to asking North Korea to resume dialogue,” Moon said at a briefing with leaders of South Korea’s main political parties, following his trip to the United States last week.
During Moon’s visit, which lasted from May 19 to Sunday, U.S. President Joe Biden appointed career diplomat Sung Kim, currently ambassador to Indonesia, as special envoy to North Korea.
Moon told party leaders that his summit with Biden on Friday “exceeded expectations.”
“A solid consensus was established between the ROK and the United States to advance the peace process on the Korean Peninsula,” Moon said. The Republic of Korea is the official name of South Korea.
Moon said a joint statement with Biden uses previous agreements with North Korea, including the 2018 Singapore Declaration between then-President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, “as a starting point for diplomacy and dialogue.”
Based on those agreements, “it is possible to resume dialogue and restart the peace clock,” Moon said.
The June 2018 Singapore summit produced a joint statement in which Kim reaffirmed “his firm and unwavering commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” while Trump pledged to provide security guarantees to North Korea.
However, nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea stalled after a second summit between Trump and Kim in February 2019 in Hanoi, Vietnam, ended without an agreement. Pyongyang had sought concessions such as easing international sanctions in exchange for steps to dismantle its nuclear arsenal, while Washington remained committed to complete denuclearization.
North Korea also severed all direct contacts with the South last June and destroyed a joint inter-Korean liaison office in the border city of Kaesong.