South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday welcomed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s New Year address and ordered government officials to resume inter-Korean dialogue and draw up follow-up measures. Moon said at this year’s first cabinet meeting that Kim positively responded to Seoul’s offer to make the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics an epoch-making opportunity for peace and improved inter-Korean relations, reports Xinhua news agency. On Monday, Kim said in his New Year’s speech that North Korea will take necessary measures to prepare to participate in the South Korea-hosted winter sports event, including the inter-Korean dialogue on Pyongyang’s participation.
The PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games are scheduled to be held in February in South Korea’s county of PyeongChang in Gangwon province. President Moon said last month that annual springtime war games between South Korea and the US can be delayed if North Korea refrains from conducting any provocation, calling on Pyongyang to participate in the winter sports event to make the PyeongChang Olympics a peace Olympic. Moon said he had proposed the delayed South Korea-US war games to Washington, which is currently reviewing his offer.
During the cabinet meeting, Moon said improving inter-Korean relations is not a separate issue from resolving the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, ordering the foreign ministry to closely cooperate with its allies and the international community to push for improving inter-Korean ties and denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula.
Moon’s ruling Democratic Party also hailed Kim’s New Year address, stressing the importance for inter-Korean dialogue. Woo Won-sik, the floor leader of the Democratic Party, told this year’s first party meeting that if North Korea takes part in the PyeongChang Olympics, it will be held peacefully and can open a door to peacefully resolving the Korean Peninsula issues.
He said the government and the ruling party should make inter-Korean talks possible so that the North Korea’s peace message will lead to the success of the PyeongChang Olympics and peace on the peninsula.