South Korea’s president has said he will keep striving to promote peace with North Korea through dialogue after Pyongyang raised animosities with a resumption of provocative weapons tests.
While launching a spate of newly developed weapons in recent weeks, North Korea has also slammed Washington and Seoul over what it calls hostility toward the North.
Its actions indicate North Korea wants its rivals to ease economic sanctions against it and accept it as a legitimate nuclear state, experts say.
In his final policy speech at parliament, President Moon Jae-in said he will “make efforts to the end to help a new order for peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula be established through dialogue and diplomacy.”
Mr Moon, a champion of greater reconciliation with North Korea, once shuttled between Pyongyang and Washington to help facilitate now-stalled nuclear diplomacy between the two countries.
Pyongyang turned a cold shoulder on Mr Moon after its diplomacy with Washington broke down in early 2019 amid bickering over the sanctions.
Mr Moon praised himself for paving the way for a peace process on the Korean Peninsula by holding three summits with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and helping arrange the first-ever North Korea – US summit between Mr Kim and then-President Donald Trump in 2018.
But Mr Moon acknowledged his push for peace through dialogue remains “incomplete”.
Mr Moon’s single five-year term ends next May, and he is barred by law from seeking re-election.
The presidential candidate of Mr Moon’s ruling liberal party has unveiled a similar North Korea policy as the current president’s.
Surveys indicate a neck-and-neck race with a potential conservative candidate, who will likely take a harder line on the North.