China optimistic about summit between Korean leaders

Frederick Owens
August 18, 2018

"Peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula depends on what we do".

Moon and Kim committed during their first meeting in April to connecting their road and rail networks as a "first step" toward restarting economic cooperation.

Moon also pledged to establish so-called special unification economic zones in the border areas of Gyeonggi and Gangwon in cooperation with North Korea, saying that such ventures would bring to South Korean companies "huge progress in addition to the numerous jobs created".

South Korean President Moon Jae-in will visit the North Korean capital next month, according to the plans, in the first such trip for a South Korean leader since 2007.

However subsequent bilateral talks to implement the denuclearization agreement have floundered over Washington's insistence that Pyongyang completely dismantle its nuclear and missile arsenals before any economic concessions are granted.

Moon proposed that the DPRK, China, Russia, Japan, Mongolia and the USA jointly set up the so-called "East Asian Railroad Community" to connect railways across Northeast Asia via inter-Korean railroad links.

The tough global restrictions block most financial transactions and 90 percent of all trade with North Korea.

President Moon did not explain how he would get past the sanctions to proceed with the railway project.

Meanwhile, Seoul's Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun ruled out the possibility that South Korean firms, which unknowingly purchased North Korean coal, would be subject to USA "secondary boycott" measures that penalize entities doing business with the North.

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The pair, alongside other North Korean officials, feasted on filet mignon, corn puree, and homemade vanilla ice cream, and later went on to meet Donald Trump and other administration officials at the White House. United Nations sanctions also call for a country to capture and look into a vessel suspected of engaging in prohibited activities with the North.

The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday that no official meetings or negotiations are now planned between Washington and Pyongyang, but that informal talks continue on a regular basis.

His remarks were made in a speech marking the 73rd anniversary of the peninsula's liberation from Japanese rule from 1910-45. -North Korea talks on denuclearization and rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons.

"Though hard processes such as the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and economic revitalization await us, there is nothing to fear if we join hands together as we always have", Moon said in a speech at the National Museum of Korea.

Pyongyang has previously lavishly celebrated the date with military parades or mass games involving thousands of people performing acrobatic choreography in unison, and is expected this time to hold its first mass games for five years.

Citing research by the state-run Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP), the President said inter-Korean economic cooperation could bring in KRW 170 trillion (USD$150 billion) over the next 30 years.

One issue that has angered North Korea recently has been the case of a dozen North Korean restaurant workers who came to the South in 2016 via China.

Cho said the two sides had exchanged views on the North's denuclearization and on a peace mechanism to replace the armistice that ended fighting during the Korean War.

Rapid rapprochement Cho addressed the possibility of Pyongyang raising the issue of sanctions to the South, and said: "We will explain our position to the North".

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