SEOUL- On Monday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that he hopes North Korea responds positively when he meets U.S. President Donald Trump this month as part of efforts to restart denuclearisation talks with the North.
Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un failed to make an agreement at their summit in Hanoi in February, leaving Moon with little room to manoeuvre and exacerbating divisions within his government over how to break the impasse.
Speaking to his cabinet, Moon said he would use the April 11 summit in Washington to discuss restarting U.S.-North Korea talks, advancing a peace process and creating a "virtuous cycle" of improving relations with Pyongyang.
"I hope North Korea will respond positively to the efforts of Seoul and Washington," he said.
Though there have been no signs of any return to U.S.-North Korea talks, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: "I would hope in the coming months our two leaders will be back together ... in a way that we can achieve a substantive first step or a substantive big step along the path to denuclearization."
Pompeo added, however, that it is "hard to know what the timing will be," according to a newly released State Department transcript of an interview on Friday with Pennsylvania radio station WHP, when asked how long the process would take.
But Moon said the allies are "very much on the same page when it comes to our shared objective of achieving complete denuclearisation and establishing a permanent peace regime on the Korean peninsula".
He criticised unnamed sceptics who he said had tried to "drive a wedge" between Seoul and Washington and "reverse the tide of peace".
"This is in no way helpful to our national interest or the future of the Korean peninsula," Moon said. "Such attempts can be labelled truly irresponsible, especially when we recall the state of crisis we endured before dialogue was launched."
The failure of the Hanoi summit created "temporary difficulties" but "it is becoming clear that neither the two Koreas nor the United States wants to go back to the past," he said.
"What’s most important at this stage after the Hanoi summit is to restart negotiations between North Korea and the United States," South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said.
Moon said he would work with Trump to overcome obstacles and find new paths toward peace.
"If we work hard, we can pull it off," he said. "Such positive thinking will lead us to a positive result."