Moon says 'time to take action' on DPRK ahead of summit with Biden
Updated 17:41, 10-May-2021

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Monday he sees his final year in office as the last chance to achieve a lasting peace with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and said it's time to take action amid stalled dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington.

Moon's comments, in a speech marking the fourth year of his presidency, come ahead of his first summit with U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington on May 21.

The South Korean president is expected to push the United States to seek engagement with the DPRK, though Biden has shown little interest in making the DPRK a top priority.

"I will consider the remaining one year of my term to be the last opportunity to move from an incomplete peace toward one that is irreversible," Moon said. "Now, the time for long deliberations is also coming to an end. It is time to take action."

Biden's administration says its overtures to Pyongyang have not been answered, and it recently completed a policy review that called for a "practical" approach of using diplomacy to find achievable goals toward eventually persuading DPRK to give up its nuclear weapons.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in arrives for a news conference at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, May 10, 2021. /Reuters

South Korean President Moon Jae-in arrives for a news conference at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, May 10, 2021. /Reuters

Moon said that he welcomed the conclusion of the policy review and that it demonstrated a "view that the current stalemate in dialogue is not desirable."

Biden, however, has shown no sign of loosening sanctions, which have hampered Moon's efforts to launch economic and tourism projects with the DPRK, and the White House has not appointed a special envoy to handle the issue.

Moon is also distracted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in domestic.

Facing declining poll numbers at home, Moon promised the government would further boost fiscal spending if needed to increase jobs, as the country deals with its worst unemployment rate in two decades.

Moon has made engaging with the DPRK a signature project and appeared to make progress in 2018 amid summits with Kim Jong Un, but as Moon enters his final year in office, Pyongyang shows few signs of interest in talking.

In his speech, Moon said that he wouldn't be impatient during his final year, but that he would do everything he could to return to the days of engagement.

"If there is an opportunity to turn back the clock of peace again and advance the peace process on the Korean peninsula, I will make all efforts," he said, adding that he looks forward to the DPRK's response.

(With input from Reuters)

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