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South Korean president to lobby for Kim Jong Un on Europe tour

South Korean president Moon Jae-in (C) visits an hydrogen station in Paris, on October 14, 2018 in Paris, as part of his three day state visit to France. (Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP)

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Monday that world powers needed to reassure North Korea’s Kim Jong Un that he had taken the right decision to commit to denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula.

Moon, who has met Kim Jong Un three times this year, was set to convey the message to French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Monday as part of a seven-day European tour that will see him also stop in Rome, Brussels and Copenhagen.

Moon told Le Figaro newspaper, in comments published in French, that Kim had “expressed his frustration at the continued scepticism of the international community” during their talks.

“We have to reassure Kim Jong Un that he has made the right choice in denuclearising and we need to support his desire for durable and solid peace,” Moon added.

Moon, who met the North Korean leader in April, May and September, was instrumental in brokering a historic summit in Singapore between US President Donald Trump and Kim in June.

But some analysts believe the dovish South Korean leader has gambled too much on securing an end to hostilities on the peninsula and has so far secured only minimal concessions from Pyongyang.

It has also put him at odds with Washington, which is wary of the rapid pace of rapprochement between the two Koreas and believes pressure needs to be maintained until Kim fully dismantles his weapons programmes.

But Moon defended his strategy, saying that “despite his young age, Kim Jong Un has demonstrated sincerity, simplicity, calm and politeness” during their talks, which explained the rapidly warming relations between the one-time foes.

The two countries announced Monday that they will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the reconnection of their railways and roads as early as next month in yet another sign of the burgeoning ties.

Moon, a Catholic, is set to meet the pope on Thursday and said he will personally convey Kim’s desire for the pontiff to visit North Korea.

He visits Brussels on Friday and Copenhagen on Saturday.

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