In this image made from a video, President of the Republic of Korea (ROK) Moon Jae-in speaks during a joint news conference with New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Auckland, New Zealand, Dec 4, 2018. (NZ POOL VIA AP)
WELLINGTON – President of the Republic of Korea (ROK) said on Tuesday a visit to Seoul by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) leader was "a possibility" and that such a trip would help to improve Pyongyang's relationship with the United States.
This will be the first time that a North Korean leader will visit South Korea so, although there is no time frame set for that, still that's very meaningful.
Moon Jae-in, ROK President
Moon Jae-in made the comment when asked by reporters during a state visit to New Zealand about the likely timing of a possible trip to Seoul by the DPRK’s Kim Jong-un, who held summits with Moon and US President Donald Trump this year.
"This will be the first time that a North Korean leader will visit South Korea so, although there is no time frame set for that, still that's very meaningful," Moon said.
The DPRK is also referred to as North Korea while the ROK as South Korea.
He said such a visit would "accelerate the denuclearization in the Korean peninsula" and result in a "greater stride in relations improvement" between the DPRK and the United States.
The ROK has been seeking to balance progressing its relationship with the DPRK while also keeping Washington onside.
Trump and Moon announced after their landmark summit in Singapore in Junethat they had agreed to work towards the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, although the two sides have since made little progress agreeing on a timeline or other concrete steps.
The DPRK has been angered by Washington's refusal to ease sanctions and has warned it could resume development of its nuclear program.
In this image made from a video, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, right, and ROK President Moon Jae-in shake hands after their joint news conference in Auckland, New Zealand, Dec 4, 2018. (NZ POOL VIA AP)
US Vice President Mike Pence said last month Trump would push for a concrete plan outlining Pyongyang's moves to end its nuclear and missile programs.
Trump signaled on Saturday he was likely to meet Kim again in January or February.
Moon spoke shortly after a meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern where they discussed how to secure a denuclearized Korean peninsula.
"New Zealand's stance on nuclear non-proliferation is clear and it is our hope that 2019 will see further progress towards achieving denuclearization of North Korea in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner and an enduring peace on the Korean Peninsula," Ardern said in an emailed statement.
New Zealand has been working with the US to help small Pacific nations audit and strengthen their shipping registers to avoid vessels with ties to the DPRK using their flags to skirt sanctions.
HONG KONG NEWS