President Moon Jae-in praises U.S. leader for facilitating talks with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un

South Korea's President Moon Jae-in, right, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un took part in a rapid thaw in relations at their summit in Panmunjom on Friday.
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, right, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un took part in a rapid thaw in relations at their summit in Panmunjom on Friday. PHOTO: KOREA SUMMIT, PRESS POOL

SEOUL—President Donald Trump deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for helping bring North Korea to the negotiating table, South Korea’s leader said, part of Seoul’s effort to credit the U.S. administration for spurring the recent thaw on the heavily militarized peninsula.

The remarks from South Korean President Moon Jae-in came three days after he met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the inter-Korean demilitarized zone and agreed to push for a permanent peace treaty to formally end the Korean War.

“President Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize,” Mr. Moon said Monday during a cabinet meeting, according to a spokesman for the presidential office in Seoul. “The only thing we need is peace.”

For the U.S., peace has meant that North Korea abandons its nuclear weapons. North Korea has said it would shut down its nuclear test site by May, though U.S. officials have expressed caution about the pledge.

Mr. Moon has credited President Donald Trump with spurring diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula. Above, a meeting between the two presidents at the White House in June.
Mr. Moon has credited President Donald Trump with spurring diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula. Above, a meeting between the two presidents at the White House in June. PHOTO: ANDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG NEWS

The peace prize has already been awarded once for diplomacy with North Korea—in 2000, to South Korea’s then-president, Kim Dae-jung, who met with Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il, in Pyongyang.

Earlier this year, a group of private citizens formed a committee to nominate Mr. Moon for the Nobel Peace Prize, but disbanded a day later under pressure from the presidential office. “Such movements are not desirable,” the Blue House said at the time, calling it “embarrassing.”

Mr. Moon’s comments represented the latest attempt by the South Korean government to credit Mr. Trump with kick-starting the sudden burst of diplomacy that began at the beginning of the year and continued through the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

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The peace drive follows a year in which Mr. Trump traded insults and threats with Mr. Kimand directed a campaign of “maximum pressure” that ramped up sanctions against the North.

In August, Mr. Trump said North Korean threats against the U.S. would “be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” prompting North Korea through to make its most specific threat yet, saying that it was considering firing missiles at Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific.

The next month, Mr. Trump, speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, threatened to annihilate North Korea. Some senior U.S. officials emphasized that diplomacy remained the preferred course of action.

The tough language spurred Mr. Moon to warn the U.S. against a unilateral attack and to redouble his efforts to pursue a diplomatic solution.

Mr. Moon has been publicly praising Mr. Trumpfor his contributions to the peace process since early January, when he thanked Mr. Trump at a press conference, a day after senior officials from the two Koreas met.

“I believe Mr. Trump did a lot in order to facilitate the inter-Korean talks yesterday, so I’d like to express my gratitude to Mr. Trump,” the South Korean president said.

Mr. Trump hasn’t publicly addressed the possibility of winning a Nobel Peace Prize. He said Friday of the inter-Korean summit: “When I began, people were saying that was an impossibility. They said there were two alternatives: Let them have what they have or go to war. And now we have a much better alternative than anybody thought even possible.”

Speaking at a campaign-style rally in Washington Township, Michigan the next day, Mr. Trump’s remarks on the situation on the Korean Peninsula were drowned out by chants of “Nobel! Nobel!”

“That’s very nice, thank you, that’s very nice,” he said. “I just want to get the job done.”

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Numerous countries are being considered for the MEETING, but would Peace House/Freedom House, on the Border of North & South Korea, be a more Representative, Important and Lasting site than a third party country? Just asking!

Mr. Trump has also assigned credit to Chinese President Xi Jinping for the recent diplomatic drive. “Please do not forget the great help that my good friend, President Xi of China, has given to the United States, particularly at the Border of North Korea,” he tweeted last week. “Without him it would have been a much longer, tougher, process!”

Mr. Trump is set to meet with Mr. Kim in the coming weeks, though a date and venue haven’t yet been set. Mr. Trump suggested on Twitter Monday that he was considering a meeting at the demilitarized zone where Messrs. Moon and Kim met last week.

Write to Jonathan Cheng at jonathan.cheng@wsj.com

Courtesy: WSJ

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