South Korean President Moon Jae-in urged North Korea to come to the dialogue table Tuesday, saying the communist state still had a chance for a peaceful end to its nuclear ambition.
"As I have stressed numerous times, the door to dialogue and negotiations is always open if North Korea stops making reckless choices," the president said in a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of an inter-Korean declaration.
The joint declaration, issued at the end of the second inter-Korean summit between then South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in October 2007, was once considered a milestone in reconciliation on the peninsula. The late leaders of the two Koreas then pledged to seek a peace treaty while boosting inter-Korean cooperation and exchanges.
Seoul and Pyongyang technically remain at war, as the 1950-53 Korean War ended only with an armistice.
North Korea has since conducted several nuclear tests, with its sixth and latest taking place earlier this month.
"The security conditions currently surrounding the Korean Peninsula are more serious than ever. But the international community is expressing unprecedentedly united anger and dealing with one voice with North Korea's repeated nuclear and ballistic missile provocations," Moon said, according to a transscript of his words released by his presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
The North has staged 15 missile tests since the start of this year, including 10 that took place after the Moon Jae-in administration took office in May. At least two of them are believed to have involved intermediate or long-range ballistic missiles.
Moon vowed stepped up efforts to rid North Korea of its nuclear ambition.
"We will never allow North Korean nukes. We will make North Korea realize that it has no future should it try to face the rest of the world with nukes," he said.
The president also urged the North to honor the 2007 declaration, jointly issued by its late leader and father of its incumbent dictator, Kim Jong-un.
"Had the Oct. 4 Summit Declaration been implemented, the landscape of peace on the Korean Peninsula today would have been quite different," Moon said.
"I urge Chairman Kim Jong-un and the North Korean government: I hope you will halt your nuclear and missile provocations and return to the spirit of the Oct. 4 Summit Declaration. I hope the South and the North can together declare the Oct. 4 Summit Declaration still valid," he added.
He also urged Pyongyang to quickly agree to the resumption of inter-Korean military talks to help ease tension.
"Many of the agreements under the Oct. 4 declaration are ones that can still be implemented. The resumption of military dialogue, especially, must quickly be realized to ease tension between the South and the North," the president told the ceremony.
Seoul earlier proposed holding military dialogue with the North, alongside Red Cross talks to discuss humanitarian issues, such as the reunions of families separated by the division of the two Koreas.
Despite the North's complete silence over the talks, initially proposed in July, the Seoul government approved a humanitarian assistance package worth US$ 8 million to the impoverished North last week, though it said the exact timing of the assistance will be determined later. (Yonhap News)