South Korean President Moon Jae-in has announced the first diplomatic gesture between his country and North Korea in years. Moon credited U.S. President Donald Trump for Trump’s aggressive rhetoric toward North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, saying that Trump’s approach had helped spur the talks.
On Jan. 10, Moon disclosed during a press conference in Seoul that his government had accepted an offer from the Kim regime to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics, the first substantial act of diplomacy between the two Koreas since 2015.
“I think President Trump deserves big credit for bringing about the inter-Korean talks,” Moon said. “It could be a resulting work of the U.S.-led sanctions and pressure.”
South Korean Special Adviser for Foreign Affairs and National Security Chung-in Moon seconded his president’s sentiment in a separate interview.
“I agree 100 percent,” the adviser told Fox News. “Were it not for President Trump’s pressures, North Korea would not have come to South Korea. President Trump deserves credit.”
Trump has repeatedly threatened military action against the Kim regime’s escalation of its nuclear program. In August 2017, the U.S. president signaled during a press event that his administration would not hesitate to launch full-scale war if North Korea continued international provocations.
“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump said, according to CNN. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
On Jan. 1, Kim stated during his annual New Year’s address that he was open to sending a delegation of North Korean officials, athletes and journalists to the South Korean-hosted Winter Olympics on Feb. 9.
On Jan. 9, officials from both Koreas finalized a deal during a rare meeting in the border village of Panmunjom, with South Korea agreeing to host 500 North Korean delegates at the Olympics, Politico reported.
North Korean officials have stated that their nuclear program is off the table in any continuing talks with their southern neighbor.
Moon, who was elected to office in May 2017, stated during his press conference that his government would not make any deals with North Korea that would undermine international efforts to pressure the Kim regime to discontinue its nuclear program.
“South Korea is not intending to ease sanctions on North Korea unilaterally and separately from the international sanctions,” Moon said.
Moon added that he was open to engaging in a diplomatic summit with Kim, adding that caveat that there would have to be set conditions and “a certain level of success must be guaranteed.”
On Jan. 8, Trump responded to reports that the two Koreas had renewed talks.
“I see a lot of good energy,” Trump said following a phone call with Moon, according to Reuters. “I like it very much … I think we will have peace through strength.”
South Korea is in a tenuous position as tensions escalate between the U.S. and North Korea. Roughly 25 million South Koreans live within the range of the Kim regime’s conventional artillery. If war were to break out, South Korea could sustain staggeringly high civilian casualties.
John Delury, a professor of international relations at Yonsei University in Seoul, asserted that Moon credited Trump for the renewed talks partly because the South Korean president wanted to remain a neutral mediator instead of making his country a target.
“Moon is not trying to claim any credit here,” Delury told The Washington Post. “He’s giving it to Kim for suggesting these talks in his New Year’s Day speech and to Trump for his tough talk. This is because Moon has embarked on a patient and steady diplomatic track.”