Jan 14, 2020 11:39 UTC
  • South Korea optimistic about US-North diplomacy despite halt to negotiations

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has expressed new optimism about the deadlocked talks between the United States and North Korea, citing a recent birthday wish sent to Pyongyang’s leader by the American president.

“Some were concerned about a new round of provocations just in time for Chairman Kim’s birthday,” President Moon said in a press conference on Tuesday, referring to the North’s leader Kim Jong-un. “Instead, President Trump sent him birthday wishes to stress his willingness to talk. It was a great idea.”

A South Korean official said last Friday that Trump had asked Seoul to pass on birthday greetings to North Korea.

Pyongyang, however, said last Saturday that it had already directly received a letter from Trump. In a statement, it also said North Korea would not return to the negotiating table with Washington solely because of the “good relations” between Kim and Trump.

“We have been deceived by the United States, being caught in the dialog with it for over one year and a half, and that was lost time for us,” the statement said.

The South Korean president referred to that response and argued that Pyongyang had not completely shut the door to talks with Washington.

“North Korea made clear that the door to dialog is not closed by saying they will come back to talks only when their demands are accepted,” Moon said.

“The US-N Korea talks are not active right now, but I would say both leaders — President Trump and Chairman Kim — continue to trust one another and continue with their efforts,” he said.