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S Korea’s Moon calls for peace with North in farewell speech

S Korea’s Moon calls for peace with North in farewell speech
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S Korea’s Moon calls for peace with North in farewell speech

S Korea’s Moon calls for peace with North in farewell speech

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South Korea’s outgoing liberal president has defended his policy of engaging with North Korea, saying in his farewell speech on Monday that he hopes efforts to restore peace and nuclear disarmament on the Korean Peninsula will continue.

Moon Jae-in left office on Tuesday after a five-year term, handing over power and responsibilities of the presidency to conservative Eun Suu Kyi, who accused him of “loyalty” to North Korea and vowed to take a tougher line on North’s nuclear program. Activities.

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“Peace is the key to our survival and prosperity. I sincerely hope that South and North Korea will resume talks and continue their efforts for nuclear disarmament and peace,” Moon said in a televised address.

When Moon – a dove who favored greater harmony between rival Korea – took office in 2017, he found little room for diplomatic maneuver because of North Korea’s fierce race for nuclear and missile tests. But in the end, he took the opportunity to negotiate with North Korea when its leader, Kim Jong Un, suddenly arrived in Seoul and Washington in early 2018 to discuss the future of its advanced nuclear arsenal.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivered a farewell speech at the President's Blue House in Seoul, South Korea on Monday, May 9, 2022.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivered a farewell speech at the President’s Blue House in Seoul, South Korea on Monday, May 9, 2022.
(Sur Myung-gon / Yonhap via AP)

Kim first sent her powerful sister to negotiate with Moon and let her attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February 2018. The two Korean leaders met three times for the summit in late 2018, taking steps to reduce border tensions and allow for rare exchange programs involving singers, basketball teams and others. Moon Kim and US President Donald Trump have now lobbied hard to broker a standstill nuclear diplomacy.

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But after North Korea-US diplomacy broke down in 2019, Moon Mlan faced criticism that his engagement policy only helped North Korea buy time and perfect its weapons program in the face of US-led sanctions and pressure on North Korea.

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Pyongyang eventually asked Moon not to interfere in its dealings with the United States and expressed crude insults against him.

In his final speech, Moon claimed that his government had helped reduce the risk of war on the Korean Peninsula and raised hopes for peace through diplomacy.

“The reason we failed to move forward was not because of our lack of effort and determination to do so. There was an obstacle that we cannot overcome with our determination alone. It is an obstacle that we must overcome,” Moon said. , “Moon said. , Without clarifying what the obstacle was.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a meeting of the Korean Workers' Party in Pyongyang, North Korea, on February 28, 2022.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a meeting of the Korean Workers’ Party in Pyongyang, North Korea, on February 28, 2022.
(Korea News Service via Korean Central News Agency / AP)

Last month, Moon and Kim exchanged their final official letters expressing hope for a better bilateral relationship. But some experts say the way North Korea described the letters, in which it expressed Moon’s commitment to continue campaigning for Korean reunification even after leaving office, reflects its intent to divide South Korea and discourage Seoul’s new government from taking a hard line. Pyongyang.

During a massive military parade in Pyongyang three days after the announcement of the letter exchange, Kim promised to speed up the development of his nuclear weapons and threatened to use them actively if provoked. In recent months, Kim’s military has been testing several missiles, including the possibility of targeting mainland South Korea, Japan or the United States.

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Some experts say Kim intends to pressure the Biden administration to disrupt the incoming UN government and relax sanctions on it while modernizing its arsenal. South Korean officials say North Korea also appears to be preparing for its first nuclear test since 2017.

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