President Moon Jae-in made the remarks in a meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong one day after a senior North Korean official told Moon that his country is willing to open talks with the United States.
The officials were in South Korea for the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on Sunday.
According to his office, Moon asked for China’s support for U.S.-North Korea talks, and Liu responded that China would help facilitate them. Moon also said that North Korea should show a commitment to denuclearization, something it has refused to do.
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Earlier, the U.S. said the international community needs to maintain maximum pressure on North Korea until it gives up its nuclear weapons development.
“We will see if Pyongyang’s message today, that it is willing to hold talks, represents the first steps along the path to denuclearization,” the White House said in a statement.
Moon met Sunday with a North Korean delegation led by Kim Yong Chol, a former general whom South Korea has accused of being behind two attacks on the South that killed 50 people in 2010. Kim told Moon that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wanted to improve ties with Washington and had “ample intentions of holding talks,” according to the South Korean president’s office.
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The North Korean delegation met with Moon’s national security chief on Monday. Moon’s office said the two sides agreed that the Olympics had been a meaningful stepping stone toward restoring inter-Korean ties and to continue to collaborate to seek a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.
South Korean protesters burned a North Korean flag and used a knife to slash a portrait of Kim Jong Un near a hotel where the North Korean delegation was staying.