SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The leaders of the rival Koreas have exchanged letters expressing hope for improved bilateral relations, which plummeted up to now three years amid a freeze in nuclear negotiations and North Korea’s accelerating weapons improvement.
North Korea’s state media stated Friday that chief Kim Jong Un obtained a private letter from outgoing South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday and replied on Thursday together with his personal letter appreciating Moon’s peace efforts throughout his time period.
Pyongyang’s official Korean Central Information Company stated their change of letters confirmed their “deep belief.” Moon’s workplace additionally confirmed that he exchanged letters with Kim however didn’t instantly say what was stated.
The change of letters got here amid heightened tensions created by a sequence of North Korean weapons assessments this 12 months, together with its first flight-test of an intercontinental ballistic missile since 2017 in March, reviving a nuclear brinkmanship geared toward forcing the U.S. to just accept it as a nuclear energy and take away crippling tensions.
South Korea’s army has additionally detected indicators that North Korea is rebuilding tunnels at a nuclear testing floor it partially dismantled weeks earlier than Kim’s first assembly with then-U.S. President Donald Trump in June 2018, a doable indicator that the nation is getting ready to renew nuclear explosive assessments.
Moon met Kim 3 times in 2018 and lobbied onerous to assist arrange Kim’s conferences with Trump. However the diplomacy by no means recovered from the collapse of the second Kim-Trump assembly in 2019 in Vietnam, the place the People rejected North Korea’s calls for for main sanctions reduction in change for dismantling an growing older nuclear facility, which might have amounted to a partial give up of its nuclear capabilities.
Kim has since vowed to bolster his nuclear deterrent to counter “gangster-like” U.S. strain and sped up his weapons improvement regardless of restricted assets and pandemic-related difficulties.
North Korea additionally severed all cooperation with Moon’s authorities whereas expressing anger over U.S.-South Korea army workout routines and Seoul’s incapability to wrest concessions from Washington on its behalf.
The KCNA stated that Moon, whose time period ends subsequent month, stated in his letter to Kim that he’ll proceed to help efforts for reunification between the war-torn rivals based mostly on their joint declarations for inter-Korean peace issued after their conferences in 2018.
North Korea now faces a brand new South Korean chief who may probably take a more durable line towards Pyongyang. Conservative South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol, who takes workplace on Might 10 after narrowly successful the March 9 election, has rejected pursuing “talks for talks’ sake” with North Korea and vowed to bolster Seoul’s alliance with Washington to counter the North’s nuclear risk.