01/10/2018, 13.32
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Moon: talks and sanctions for peace on the Korean Peninsula

For the South Korean president, both are needed to stop the North’s nuclear programme. Pyongyang said that missiles are aimed at the US, not its southern "brethren", Russia or China. US remains sceptical whilst the EU is optimistic.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – A day after talks between North and South Korea resumed in Panmunjom, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that Seoul will not ease sanctions against Pyongyang, but will continue to work with the international community to ensure peace and a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

Yesterday the two Koreas met after more than two years and agreed to the North’s participation in the Pyeongchang Olympics in the South, from 9 to 25 February.

Speaking to more than 200 foreign and local journalists this morning at a press conference for the start of the year, Moon said that talks and sanctions are both needed to stop the North’s nuclear programme.

“The dialogue between South Korea and North Korea has begun,” he said. “We plan to turn this dialogue into a chance to improve South-North Korea relations and also resolve the North Korean nuclear issue through dialogue."

This seems to reflect a desire to reassure South Korea’s US ally, which has in various ways expressed skepticism over yesterday’s talks.

In an interview in Washington last week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “Is this the beginning of something?” “I think it’s premature.”

According to Tillerson, the meeting was limited to the Olympics, but in fact, in Panmunjom, North and South Korea also decided to meet to discuss other topics, including military talks.

For its part, Pyongyang said its military nuclear programme was off the table because its weapons are aimed at the United States and not at "our brethren" in South Korea, or Russia and China.

In a tweet US President Donald Trump took credit for yesterday's meeting saying that pressure from the US and the international community is behind the talks. “[I]f I wasn’t firm, strong and willing to commit our total ‘might’ against the North,” the meeting would not have happened, Trump said.

This morning, Moon praised Trump, saying that perhaps without US sanctions talks might not have resumed.

For its part, the European Union expressed optimism. The high-level talks on Tuesday "are an encouraging signal, representing a positive step towards the improvement of inter-Korean relations," said Federica Mogherini, the EU's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy.

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