SEOUL, Feb. 8 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korean President Moon Jae-in reaffirmed his commitment to the alliance with the United States as the pillar for denuclearizing North Korea during his meeting with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday.
The U.S. official arrived in Seoul earlier in the day to attend Friday’s opening of the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, located some 180 kilometers east of the capital.
“I always stress this but the most important thing is close cooperation between South Korea and the United States,” the president told Pence at his office Cheong Wa Dae.
The Moon-Pence meeting came amid what the South Korean leader has called a rare and hard-earned opportunity for dialogue with North Koreacreated by the communist state’s participation in the Olympics here.
“The United States’ firm stance and close alliance (with South Korea) contributed to North Korea’s participation in South-North Korea dialogue and the Olympic Games,” Moon said, according to Cheong Wa Dae pool reports.
“We will work to take this opportunity and bring North Korea tothe dialogue table for its denuclearization and the establishment of peace.”
South Korea and the North held three rounds of talks last month to discuss the North’s participation in the Feb. 9-25 PyeongChang Olympics. They marked the first official dialogue between the divided Koreas in more than two years.
Highlighting the recent rapprochement between the two Koreas, Moon is scheduled to meet North Korean government delegates to the PyeongChang Olympics on Saturday. The North Korean delegation includes the North’s ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam and its leader Kim Jong-un’s younger sister Kim Yo-jong.
U.S. President Donald Trump has welcomed the resumption of inter-Korean dialogue, but Washington is still largely considered to be skeptical toward the move, viewing the North as intending to weaken international sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs.
Pence said his country will continue to put maximum pressure on the North, together with South Korea, calling “permanent and irreversible” denuclearization of North Korea the most important objective of the allies.
He also reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to the alliance, as well as their joint defense of South Korea and its people.
Moon noted that Pence’s trip to South Korea as head of the official U.S. delegation to PyeongChang has once again demonstrated the strength of their countries’ alliance, also saying his visit will greatly help make the PyeongChang Olympic Games a peaceful event.