South Korea's Moon calls for U.S.-North Korea summit before U.S. election

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean President Moon Jae-in has said U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un should meet again before the U.S. presidential election in November, a Seoul official told reporters on Wednesday.

Moon’s remarks were made during a video conference with European Council President Charles Michel on Tuesday, during which he said another summit between Trump and Kim would help resume stalled nuclear negotiations.

“I believe there’s a need for North Korea and the United States to try dialogue one more time before the U.S. presidential election,” a presidential official quoted Moon as saying.

“The issues of nuclear programmes and sanctions will ultimately have to be resolved through North Korea-U.S. talks.”

Moon’s office had conveyed such views to Washington and the officials there are making efforts to resume the talks, the South Korean official said.

Trump and Kim met for the first time in 2018 in Singapore, raising hopes of an agreement to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons programme. But their second summit, in early 2019 in Vietnam, fell apart.

Trump and Kim met again at the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in June 2019 and agreed to restart negotiations, but working-level talks between the two sides in Sweden in October were broken off.

Inter-Korean tensions flared last month after the North blew up a joint liaison office, severed hotlines and threatened military action over plans by defector groups in the South to send anti-Kim leaflets across the border. Following weeks of heated exchanges, Kim suspended the military plans, without specifying why.

The moves from Pyongyang were seen aimed at recapturing the attention of Trump and making a renewed push for sanctions relief before the November election, experts said.

On Monday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, who led working-level negotiations with North Koreans, said there is still time for both sides to re-engage and “make substantial progress”.

Biegun, however, said an in-person summit would be difficult before the November election, citing the coronavirus pandemic which has all but wiped the world’s diplomatic calendar clean.

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