November 13, 2017 (EIRNS)-Following a bilateral meeting today on the sidelines of the ASEAN forum in Manila with the Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, South Korea's President Moon Jae-in, expressing hope their talks will further speed up the normalization of their ties, said "I believe we have created a chance to quickly normalize the countries' relationship through my talks with President Xi Jinping". Both have urged caution and dialog as U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un engage in an escalating war of words.
The call came at an annual summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), known as the ASEAN Plus Three. He arrived here Sunday following trips to Indonesia and Vietnam. The regional forum involves the leaders of all 10 ASEAN countries, plus the leaders of South Korea, Japan and China.
Still, Moon said anything could be discussed if the North comes to the dialogue table. In his remarks, he said that "the culture of tolerance and understanding among us [provides] space for positive dialogue".
Moon, however, insisted now was still time to focus on keeping maximum pressure and sanctions against the impoverished North.
Speaking to reporters in the Philippines, Moon said that if North Korea agreed to hold talks, negotiations could be held with all options open.
Also on Saturday, the US and South Korea launched a joint naval drill in a show of strength against the North's leader Kim Jong-un.
The South Korean president will then host a dinner for South Korean residents and business people in the Philippines.
Moon says he remained neither optimistic nor pessimistic, noting the North has often made such decisions at the last minute. The comments can also be seen as a warning to South Korea not to let THAAD become a problem again. "A series of three Olympic events will be held in Asia and the Pyeongchang Olympics will be the first of them", he said. "I believe we have created a chance to quickly normalize the countries' relationship through my talks with President Xi Jinping". On Nov. 11, President Moon and Chinese President Xi Jinping had a bilateral meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam, where they attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (AEPC) forum.
Moon insisted his summit with Xi, held on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Danang, marked a fresh start in the countries' bilateral relations.
The South Korean leader noted the THAAD issue may not have completely gone away, but insisted the countries have clearly left it behind.
Xi said stable Sino-Japan relations was important to the region, but added that Japan needed to do more to improve mutual trust between the two nations, Xinhua reported.
The countries earlier issued a joint statement vowing to put their ties back on the normal track. Since he took office past year, he has pivoted toward China.
Lian Degui, a professor with the School of Japanese Studies at Shanghai International Studies University, said Trump's visits to China, Japan and South Korea sent a signal that the United States needed cooperation among the three countries to tackle the North Korean nuclear issue.
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