South Korea's Moon urges North Korea to return detainees swiftly

Claudine Rigal
Juin 21, 2017

A pair of B-1B Lancer bombers from the U.S. Air Force, left, flies over the Korean Peninsula on Tuesday as a part of a joint military drill with Korea.

Senior Cheong Wa Dae officials said Monday that the presidential office delivered a "stern warning" to Moon that his comments do not help with the alliance with the US. "It is not our (North Korea's) intention to pretend that the policy has been changed by a mere exchange of some civic organizations, rather than solving the root cause of the problem", adding that, "South Korea is at an historic crossroad between making glorious history by holding hands with North Korea or following the same miserable steps of past regimes by giving in to foreign forces and hesitating to cooperate with the North".

He said it means reducing strategic assets deployed by the United States since the North's sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan and shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in 2010.

Similar arguments were made to the Washington Post in September 2016 by Jane Harman, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center, and James Person, coordinator of the its Center for Korean History and Public Policy, while a fierce debate was taking place over the new United States administration's North Korea policy.

North Korea routinely objects to such flyovers and military exercises, calling them "provocations" and justification for its development of nuclear weapons for self-defense.

Two senior U.S. officials with direct knowledge also told CNN that military options for North Korea have recently been updated, and will be presented to President Donald Trump for a decision to act if there is a nuclear test.

Moon echoed these fears when he said, "South Korea is not safe from the risk of natural disaster, and a nuclear accident caused by a quake can have such a devastating impact".

The tweet came a day after the death of Otto Warmbier, the American student detained in North Korea for more than a year.

Asked how the Warmbier case would affect Moon's efforts to engage North Korea as he has said he wants to, the president added: "I believe we must now have the perception that North Korea is an irrational regime".

Pyongyang has also vowed to develop a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the US mainland. That could run counter to the UN-led worldwide efforts to toughen sanctions against the North's unceasing provocations.

"Yes, this had happened while Mr Warmbier was in the detention of North Korean authorities", Moon told CBS television's "This Morning". Suh played a key role in both the previous inter-Korean summits - between Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il in 2000 and between Roh Moo-hyun and Kim in 2007. Cheong Wa Dae scrambled to address the comments with less than 10 days remaining before President Moon meets his USA counterpart Donald Trump in Washington. Moon will visit Washington for the summit. The North is continuing to upgrade its nuclear and missile technologies, which only months ago raised talk of war due to Trump's hard-line stance.

Despite a consistent USA military presence in his backyard, Kim has defiantly continued to march toward developing a long-range nuclear missile.

Unlike domestic policies, trial and error must not be allowed in national security. A tight alliance with the U.S. is essential for our national security.

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