President Moon Jae-in returned home Thursday from his two-day trip to Russia which was concluded by his keynote speech delivered at the Eastern Economic Forum.
During his visit, he held summit talks with Russia, Japan and Mongolia, and discussed cooperation in dealing with North Korea.
His trip had two main goals. The first was diplomacy regarding the North Korea nuclear issue with neighboring foreign powers. The second was to declare a new Northern Policy vision which he talked about during his keynote speech.
During the summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the two sides agreed to continue strategic communication.
Seoul and Moscow saw eye-to-eye on the principles of no tolerance against a nuclear North Korea and a peaceful resolution to the crisis, but they clearly differed on the methods.
Moon mentioned cutting oil supplies to the North in order to engage Pyongyang in dialogue, while Putin said it’s impossible to resolve the issue with pressure and sanctions alone. The Russian leader called for a shift toward dialogue and also dismissed Seoul’s request of the North Korea oil ban, saying Russia exports a meager 40,000 tons of oil to North Korea each year.
In talks with Japan, the two neighbors reaffirmed close coordination in dealing with North Korea. Moon and Prime Minister Abe agreed on the need for maximum sanctions and pressure on the North to stop its provocations.
The two sides also refrained from historical issues and were seen as focused on future-oriented bilateral relations.
In talks with Mongolian President Khaltmaa Battulga, President Moon unveiled a blueprint on a Northeast Asia peace and cooperation regime involving six countries, which is the key to his new Northern Policy initiative.
The multilateral body is envisioned to boost economic and security cooperation among countries in the Far East.
In his keynote speech at the Eastern Economic Forum, Moon presented a big picture on economic cooperation connecting the Korean Peninsula with Russia and Eurasia.
He said cooperation among Northeast Asian countries in developing the Russian Far East will be one way to fundamentally resolve the North Korean nuclear issue.
President Moon noted that until now, cooperation with Russia was part of the trilateral cooperation between the two Koreas and Russia. He said because of this, inter-Korean relations impacted Seoul’s cooperation with Moscow.
Moon said this will change so that cooperation with Russia will itself be a goal to be pursued.
Moon also proposed a free trade agreement between Korea and Eurasia which Putin supported. Moon also proposed a so-called 9-Bridges Strategy of developing nine strategic links between Korea and Russia. The nine bridges refer to gas, railways seaports, electricity, Arctic shipping routes, shipbuilding, job creation, agriculture, and fisheries.