SEOUL, Sept. 26 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in flew back to Seoul on Thursday following a three-night stay in New York, where he had summit talks with U.S. President Donald Trump and attended a U.N. General Assembly session.
In a meeting with Trump at a hotel on Monday, Moon reconfirmed close coordination between the allies on the Korean peace process ahead of the resumption of Washington-Pyongyang nuclear negotiations, according to Cheong Wa Dae officials.
The two sides have "reaffirmed their determination to change relations with North Korea; end the hostile relationship, which has lasted nearly 70 years; and establish a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula," Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Ko Min-jung said in a statement.
In consultations with South Korea on the summit results, the U.S. has used the word "transform," instead of "change" or "improve," according to an informed source.
It may reflect the Trump administration's resolve to fundamentally reset Washington's ties with Pyongyang.
The peace process had sputtered since Trump's second summit with the North's leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi ended without a deal. The North even resumed the test-firing of short-range and other rocket systems apparently in protest at combined military drills between the U.S. and South Korea.
Cheong Wa Dae's view is that the Moon-Trump summit has ushered in the outright recovery of the summit-driven initiative for the denuclearization and establishment of lasting peace on the peninsula, as Pyongyang and Washington look set to resume working-level bargaining within the next few weeks.
Trust and good relationships among the leaders of the two Koreas and the U.S. are said to be the driving force behind it.
Above all, Moon and Trump made it clear that the allies would avoid military action against the North. In another message to Pyongyang, they agreed that the Singapore summit accord between Trump and the communist country's leader Kim Jong-un, signed in June last year, holds true.
Pyongyang has called on Washington to come up with a new way of "calculating" the value of its offer of verifiably dismantling the Yongbyon nuclear complex, a major sticking point in the Hanoi talks.
Not long after sacking his hawkish national security adviser John Bolton, Trump openly hinted at a possible "new method" on North Korea.
With his second summit with Trump in less than three months, Moon listened to Trump's updated strategy and presented his ideas, thus highlighting Seoul's stake and role in the peace process.
Moon delivered his hope that Trump will have a third summit with Kim in the near future.
For Moon, the best scenario is that another meeting between Trump and Kim will bear fruit and pave the way for the North's leader to participate in the South Korea-ASEAN special summit, scheduled to take place in Busan in late November, as an observer. It's Kim's turn to visit South Korea, as Moon traveled to Pyongyang last year.
On the other hand, Moon's ninth summit with Trump also showed that money talks more in the traditionally value-based alliance.
Starting the meeting, Trump abruptly said, "We'll be talking the purchase of equipment. South Korea is one of our largest purchasers of military equipment. And we're working together very well."
Splitting the U.S. Forces Korea cost was raised as well in their meeting, which lasted 65 minutes, longer than the originally scheduled 45 minutes.
"Separate from close coordination on the North Korea issue and a robust alliance, a tough round of negotiations appears unavoidable," a Cheong Wa Dae official said.
President Moon Jae-in delivers a keynote speech at the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept. 24, 2019. (Yonhap)
As he addressed the 74th session of the U.N. General Assembly, meanwhile, Moon asked the United Nations to help turn the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which cuts across the middle of the Korean peninsula, into an international peace zone.
"If the DMZ comes to house U.N. offices already stationed in the two Koreas and other international organizations related to peace, ecology and culture and emerges as a center for research on peace, peacekeeping, arms control and trust building, it can become an international peace zone in name as well as substance," he said.
Moon has long thought about the vision and finally chose the U.N. session to reveal it at a crucial time for the regional peace-building efforts, according to a Cheong Wa Dae aide.
He became the first South Korean president to take part in a U.N. General Assembly session for a third consecutive year.
Delivering a separate speech at the U.N. Climate Action, he unveiled Seoul's plan to host the second P4G summit in June next year. P4G stands for Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030, a public-private initiative to tackle climate change and other sustainable development challenges.
Moon also announced Seoul's decision to double its contribution to the Green Climate Fund to US$200 million.
"This year, I participated in the U.N. General Assembly with two goals," Moon said in a Facebook message titled "Leaving New York."
The first, he said, was to show that South Korea is making contributions to the international community to pay back what it received from the U.N. during and after the 1950-53 Korean War.
"We will do all of our part in multilateral efforts for climate action and sustainable development," he said.
The other was presenting the new DMZ vision, a measure that the U.N. can take in case of North Korea's sincere denuclearization steps, he added.
In New York, he had separate summit talks with his Polish, Danish and Australian counterparts, as well as U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach on the sidelines of the U.N. meeting.
Moon then attended a special ceremony to mark the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's birth at the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Moon and Modi have maintained quite a good personal relationship, officials here said.