President Moon Jae-in remains confident that the talks with North Korea will turn positive, despite the regime having warned the South to stay out of the nuclear talks with the U.S.
During his annual New Year's press conference, the president said despite the lack of progress seen on the denuclearization front, it is still too early to be pessimistic.
"There is more to it than meets the eye in diplomacy. Although inter-Korean relations and North Korea-U.S. relations are going through a rough time, efforts to expand bilateral cooperation through dialogue continue. We are confidently pushing ahead with the optimistic prospect that it will turn out well."
He added that the recent exchange, which included a birthday message from Trump to Kim, is a positive sign that underscores their commitment for negotiations.
And he said the exchange also shows that the regime has not completely shut the door to more talks, and expressed his hope for more active inter-Korean cooperation to keep pace with the denuclearization process and help ease international sanctions.
Admitting that there is stalemate in talks between Pyeongyang and Washington, the President said that the denuclearization talks are short on time.
"With the U.S. now entering its presidential election season, it may be difficult to host more active North Korea-U.S. talks."
Echoing the strong Seoul-Washington partnership,.. the president said there are a number of issues to consider in reviewing the possibility of deploying South Korean troops to help safeguard the strategically vital Strait of Hormuz, amid heightened tensions in the Middle East.
With South Korea having diplomatic relations with both the U.S. and Iran, he said a comprehensive solution seems necessary.
On the issue of diplomacy with Japan, President Moon said Seoul-Tokyo relations remain healthy, except for the issues of forced labor and export controls, a relationship that turned south over differences on historical matters.
And on seeking a solution on the issue of compensation for the forced Korean labor during Japanese colonial rule, the president said the most important part is coming up with a settlement that the victims can agree on.
"President Moon once again called for a cooperative solution, saying that Japan too, should present its own ideas to resolve the forced labor compensation issue perhaps signaling for more face-to-face dialogue between the two sides.
Shin Se-min, Arirang News."