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Moon says it's time to prepare for talks with Kim

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"As soon as North Korea is ready, I hope the two Koreas will sit down together regardless of venue and form," says Mr Moon.

Seoul

SOUTH Korean President Moon Jae-in said it's time to prepare for talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, commenting just days after returning from a visit to the White House where he tried to get faltering nuclear negotiations back on track.

Mr Moon, who has tried to be a bridge between Mr Kim and President Donald Trump, said on Monday that North Korea's leader is committed to denuclearisation and the US president feels a top-down peace process is necessary for the divided peninsula. Mr Kim and Mr Trump's February summit collapsed without a deal, with both sides blaming the other for the breakdown.

"Now is the time to begin the preparations in earnest for an inter-Korean summit. As soon as North Korea is ready, I hope the two Koreas will sit down together regardless of venue and form," Mr Moon said at a meeting with his senior secretaries, according to a pool report from the presidential Blue House.

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In his White House meeting with Mr Moon, Mr Trump rejected calls for confidence-building economic projects with North Korea, in a blow to the South Korean president's efforts to restart the nuclear talks.

Mr Moon was also battered when Mr Kim said in a speech last week before the country's Supreme People's Assembly that South Korea should "not pose as a meddlesome mediator".

He criticised Mr Moon's government for standing with the US in enforcing sanctions crippling North Korea's economy and holding joint military drills with the US, according to North Korea's state-run media.

Mr Kim called on the US to offer acceptable terms for an agreement by the end of the year, remarks that suggested an attempt to breathe new life into the stalled negotiations.

Mr Moon said on Monday that Mr Kim showed his commitment for continuing dialogue during his speech at the Supreme People's Assembly.

Separately, South Korea's defence ministry defended joint drills that Mr Kim criticised during the speech, saying that holding the drills didn't go against the military agreement reached last September by Mr Kim and Mr Moon at their summit in Pyongyang. In Pyongyang, Mr Kim and Mr Moon agreed on a range of measures to bolster Korean relations, including connecting railways, reuniting families, preparing to restart economic projects and withdrawing guard posts from their heavily militarised border. BLOOMBERG