President Moon Jae-in says that South Korea and the international community may begin discussions on possible rewards if North Korea decides to freeze its nuclear program and engage in dialogue.
The president made the remark on Tuesday in a meeting with reporters in the Philippine capital of Manila. He was responding to a reporter asking if he is considering rewards for the North's nuclear freeze and dismantlement.
Moon refused to answer when asked whether South Korea and the U.S. may consider halting their joint military exercises as possible rewards.
He said that it will not be easy to move on to complete dismantlement of North Korean nukes in the near future, considering recent advances in the North's nuclear and missile programs.
The president stressed that now is not the time to talk about rewards or conditions, but to focus on maximum pressure and sanctions to lead the North toward the path of dialogue.
Speaking on the future of Seoul-Beijing relations, Moon said the two countries have agreed to normalize and advance bilateral ties, leaving aside a diplomatic row over the installment of the U.S. THAAD antimissile system in South Korea.
Moon said he doesn't expect the issue to be part of the agenda when he visits China next month. He added, however, that the THAAD issue hasn't been completely resolved as China still doesn't consent to the system. He said Beijing continues to view THAAD as infringing on its security.
The president said the South Korean side explained that THAAD doesn't target China, but is solely intended for the nation's security in response to the North's nuclear threats.