Days after President Donald Trump took credit for initiating constructive talks between North and South Korea, President Moon Jae-in has affirmed the claims by agreeing that the American Commander-in-Chief does indeed deserve credit.
This weekend, Trump said that “if I weren’t involved they wouldn’t be talking about the Olympics right now.” He also said that he hoped for the best outcome as the two warring Koreas engaged in talks about the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang County.
Trump also asserted that “they’d be doing no talking or it would be much more serious” if he hadn’t intervened.
According to a report by Reuters, on Wednesday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in took a moment to thank Trump during his first press conference of the year.
“I think President Trump’s role in the realization of inter-Korean talks was very big. I would like to express my gratitude. It could be a resulting work of the U.S.-led sanctions and pressure.”
Moreover, Jae-in added a warning to the North, saying that sanctions would be ramped up if any provocations were escalated.
North Korea, meanwhile, has not expressed the same sentiments towards Trump’s involvement in the first negotiations between the two countries since 2015. Speaking from Pyongyang, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un dismissed Trump’s claims as “ridiculous sophism,” choosing instead to label U.S. diplomacy in the Korean Peninsula as a failure.
“It is very deplorable to see the US politicians boasting of their diplomatic failure as ‘diplomatic success’.”
While meeting in the Demilitarized Zone – a stretch of no man’s land that has kept the two Koreas apart since 1953 – in Paju, South Korea, Jong-un and Jae-in came to an agreement that would see them make a concerted effort to diffuse the tensions between them, as well as to commit to measures that would prevent unintended military conflicts.
Tensions between the two opposing nations have mainly been centered on North Korea’s nuclear missile development; a program that has only gained momentum in recent years as the North’s weapons capabilities continue to evolve at a remarkable pace.
Nevertheless, Pyongyang has provisionally agreed to send its athletes to participate in the Winter Olympics that will be commencing in the South next month. The 1988 Summer Olympics were also held in Seoul, but the event was boycotted by the North’s then-leader Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of Kim Jong-un.
In recent months, global leaders have expressed concern about the increasing nuclear provocations from the North as a potential threat to the safety of the world’s best athletes as they compete in Seoul. Pyongyang has repeated many times that it has the weaponry required to strike the South Korean capital if tensions boiled over.
Even so, President Moon Jae-in attempted to allay fears during Wednesday’s press conference by asserting that he believes the current talks with their antagonistic neighbor are “only the beginning” of a process that could lead to peace.
“Yesterday was the first step and I think we had a good start. Bringing North Korea to talks for denuclearization is the next step we must take.”
Meanwhile, across the border, Kim Jong-un recently delivered his own new year’s speech in which he expressed high hopes for the success of the country’s athletes as he mulled over the likelihood of sending a delegation to the Olympics in February.