Korea's Moon still hopes to host Kim this year

Korea's Moon still hopes to host Kim this year

While the North has repeatedly stressed these reciprocal measures should involve relief from worldwide sanctions, President Moon on Tuesday said he believed there were other ways for Washington to build trust.

A visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to Seoul before the end of the year remains possible, South Korean President Moon Jae-in reiterated to press on Tuesday.

Ardern met with Moon on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit and Apec last month, and he has visited New Zealand in 2006 and in 2015.

"The message is that President Trump has very favourable views towards Chairman Kim and he likes him", Mr Moon told reporters aboard a flight from Argentina to New Zealand, where he started a three-day state visit on Sunday.

According to several Western media outlets, Trump told them aboard Air Force One after attending the Group of 20 (G20) summit that the meeting would occur early in 2019.

After deriding Kim a year ago as "little rocket man" and threatening his country with "fire and fury", Trump has bestowed Kim with praise. Trump recently said he is likely to hold a second summit with Kim in January or February.

Moon said a second summit between Kim and Trump will prove to be the "most critical moment" for North Korea's denuclearisation.

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"This will be the first time that a North Korean leader will visit South Korea so, although there is no time frame set for that, still that's very meaningful", Moon said.

Kim's father and late leader, Kim Jong-il, saw his birthday designated as a national holiday in 1982 when he was 40, two years after he was anointed as successor to his father and national founder Kim Il-sung.

But President Moon stressed the need for Japan's participation in the denuclearization of North Korea and the ongoing peace process.

Moon said that Seoul shares the same stance as Wellington in rejecting protectionism and defending free trade.

"This will be the first time that the North Korean leader will visit Seoul since Korea was divided into two countries", he said. Subsequent nuclear diplomacy hasn't made headway since the US-North Korea summit in June.

Moon's programme in Auckland includes a ceremony of welcome and a state lunch hosted by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy at Government House, a wreath laying ceremony and tour of Auckland War Memorial Museum, and an engagement with the Korean community in Auckland.

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