S. Korean presidential frontrunner pledges dialogue with N. Korea

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Seoul, Dec 16 (IANS) A South Korean frontrunner in presidential polls has pledged dialogue with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, resetting of relations with Japan and robust alliance with the US.

Moon Jae-in, former chairman of opposition Minjoo Party, made the remarks here on Thursday while explaining his potential campaign pledges in an upcoming presidential election, Xinhua news agency reported.

“I’m willing to have talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un,” said Moon who set preconditions that Pyongyang’s complete dismantlement of nuclear programmes and the Korean Peninsula’s denuclearisation.

Moon also said that he would reset his country’s relations with Japan unrepentant for his past brutalities before and during the World War II.

The Korean Peninsula was colonised by the Imperial Japan between 1910 and 1945.

He condemned the “final and irreversible” agreement last December with Japan on the victims of “comfort women”, a euphemism for Korean women forced into sexual slavery for Japan’s army-run brothels before and during the war.

Asked about President-elect Donald Trump, Moon forecast that there would be no big change in the US policy toward South Korea, saying there had been no great change in it though the Republic and Democratic parties rotated presidencies.

Moon said he would inherit the South Korea-US alliance from previous governments and solidify it further.

As President Park Geun-hye was impeached last week with an overwhelming support in the National Assembly, South Koreans started to look for their next leader in early presidential election to be held next year.

The permanent removal of Park from office requires approval from the two-thirds of the nine-judge constitutional court that has up to 180 days to deliberate it.

The court is estimated to reach a final conclusion on the impeachment between February and March next year.

A presidential election must be held within 60 days, forecast between April and May, if Park is permanently removed.

–IANS

py/dg

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