South Korean President Moon Jae In is willing to meet North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un “under the right conditions,” the South Korean leader said in Seoul on Wednesday.
He would agree to a meeting if there were prospects for “tangible results,” Moon said at a press conference, adding that avoiding another war and a Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons were his main goals.
The announcement came a day after breakthrough talks which saw officials on both sides agree to three key steps for reconciliation. Moon stressed that he would push for further bilateral talks.
Moon welcomed the resumption of inter-Korean dialogue but stressed that his country will continue to work with the international community to “de-nuclearize” his northern neighbour.
Speaking at his first press conference of the New Year in Seoul, Moon also said his country has no plans to ease sanctions on North Korea against the will of the international community.
“Now the dialogue with North Korea has begun, but because the North Korean nuclear issue has not been resolved, South Korea will continue to keep pace with the pressure and sanctions by the international community,” Moon said.
“We have no plans to ease our unilateral sanctions against North Korea that are in place in addition to international sanctions for now,” he added.
On Tuesday, both sides agreed on the North’s participation in next month’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, an easing of military tensions and the active pursuit of resolution-driven dialogues.
The deal came after Pyongyang reopened a military hotline with Seoul which had remained dormant since February 2016 after the closure of a jointly-operated industrial park.
Analysts say North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s attempt to restore dialogue with Seoul could be a gambit intended to drive a wedge between South Korea and the United States.
The two Koreas remain in a technical state of war. The 1950-53 Korean War ended with a ceasefire, but no peace deal was signed.