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South Korean President Warns of World’s Judgment if North Korea Talks Fail

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in speaks at the ISEAS 42nd Singapore Lecture in Singapore July 13, 2018. (Edgar Su/Reuters)

South Korean president Moon Jae-in exuded optimism on Friday about denuclearization talks between the U.S. and North Korea, but warned that the world will judge all involved if they fail.

Moon visited Singapore on Wednesday for three days and on Thursday held a summit with Singaporean prime minister Lee Hsien.

“I believe the countries will honor the agreement reached by their leaders even if they face many difficulties during working-level negotiations,” Moon said. But if the two acrimonious nations fail to “keep the promises made by their leaders in front of the international community, they will have to face the judgment of the international community.”

Moon still believes North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has a “great desire to break away from ideological confrontations and develop North Korea into a normal country.” In the meantime, South Korea has adopted the New Southern Policy aimed at building stronger relationships with nearby countries, the reason behind the president’s Singapore visit.

The Seoul-based Asan Institute’s poll showed that 71 percent of South Koreans viewed President Trump’s long-anticipated June 12 summit with Kim as successful and 10 percent thought North Korea would continue its nuclear-weapons program.

The two leaders signed a document during the summit pledging to work toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had a less successful follow-up visit to Pyongyang, after which North Korea expressed disappointment with the U.S. diplomatic team, accusing American negotiators of “gangster-like” tactics and calling their attitude “regrettable.”

North Korean officials also stood up U.S. officials at the demilitarized zone on Sunday, where they had planned a meeting to discuss bringing home the remains of U.S. troops from the Korean War.

Even so, Trump on Thursday touted a “very nice note” from Kim, which said that the joint statement they signed was the “start of a meaningful journey.”

“If North Korea gives more substance on the implementation of denuclearization, and if South Korea and the United States quickly take comprehensive corresponding measures, the whole process will accelerate,” Moon said.

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