South Korean President Moon Jae-in told the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday that his country did not want to see the “collapse” of North Korea and urged Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program.
Despite North Korea’s “flagrant violations,” the South Korean government and the international community are making every effort to resolve the situation peacefully, he said.
“We do not desire the collapse of North Korea,” Moon said. “We will not seek reunification by absorption or artificial means. If North Korea makes a decision even now to stand on the right side of history, we are ready to assist North Korea together with the international community.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has sent two ballistic missiles over Japan in recent weeks and set off his sixth, most powerful nuclear test, on September 3. The UN Security Council unanimously passed new sanctions against North Korea in the wake of that test.
Moon said he highly appreciated the recent UN Security Council resolutions against North Korean’s “provocations” and said the body’s swift action showed the international community was “collectively outraged” by Pyongyang’s actions.
He urged North Korea immediately to cease making “reckless” decisions, to “abandon its hostile policies towards other nations” and to give up its nuclear program. Moon also called on North Korea to come to the negotiating table.
“The international community also need to strengthen its efforts,” Moon said. “A stern and strong response is necessary until it voluntarily gives up its nuclear programs. All the countries need to thoroughly implement the UNSC resolutions and seek new, appropriate measures if North Korea makes further provocations.”
The situation should be managed in a “stable manner,” he said, “so that tensions will not become overly intensified or accidental military clashes will not destroy peace.”
Moon also referred in his speech to his hope that the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, only 100 kilometers from the demilitarized zone that divides the two countries, could help unite North and South Korea.
Moon is scheduled to meet with US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the UN meeting later Thursday.
Trump signaled ahead of the meeting that new sanctions would be announced against North Korea.
Top of the agenda is likely to be South Korea’s surprise decision to send an $8 million aid package to North Korea. The move, which runs contrary to American and Japanese calls for an increase in economic and diplomatic pressure, marks a resumption in South Korean aid after a break of almost two years.
In a statement Wednesday, the South’s Unification Ministry said the decision to resume aid was in line with “the government’s stance that it separates the provision of humanitarian aid from politics and it continues to provide aid to improve the humanitarian situation of North Korean residents and the quality of their lives.”
In his debut address to the assembled world leaders Tuesday, Trump vowed to “totally destroy” North Korea if the US was forced to defend its allies, saying that while the US has “great strength and patience,” its options could soon run out.
North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on Wednesday delivered a scornful response to that threat, likening it to the sound of “a dog barking.”
CNN’s Kristina Sgueglia, Kevin Liptak and Taehoon Lee contributed to this report.