Moon rises: New South Korean president raises hopes of regional peace

Tuesday-the day he was elected-Moon announced that "under the right conditions" he could open discussions with Pyongyang, a stance some believe could put the USA ally at odds with the Trump administration as it considers military intervention in the region.

The son of North Korean refugees, Moon also takes over the leadership mantle amid rising tensions on the Korean peninsula over Pyongyang's nuclear programme. "If needed I will fly to Washington immediately", Moon told lawmakers after taking the oath of office in Seoul's National Assembly building. "And when the conditions are right, I will also go to Pyongyang", Moon said during his speech.

The liberal Mr Moon has hit the ground running since he won Tuesday's election, following the impeachment and arrest in March of his predecessor, the conservative Park Geun-hye, over a corruption scandal.

Moon told Abe that he held a similar view about the issues they face regarding North Korea.

North Korea is believed to be preparing for a sixth nuclear test and is working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the United States, presenting President Donald Trump with perhaps his most pressing security issue. They are lukewarm about the deployment of the US ABM system in South Korea and they would foster friendly ties with China. As things stand neither is North Korea likely to give up its nukes, nor is China particularly inclined to help the US.

In his conversation with Abe, Moon pointed out that most South Koreans don't accept an agreement Japan made with the Park administration in December 2015 to compensate women who were forced to work in military brothels during World War II.

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He reiterated that the Chinese side has long stuck to the goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, safeguarding the Peninsula's peace and stability, and solving problems through dialogue and negotiation.

"Talk about a South-North summit is a little premature, but regardless of that, there's a need for a summit meeting", he said.

Conservative U.S. media voiced fears of potential friction between the two allies in dealing with a belligerent North Korea following nearly a decade of conservative rule in South Korea that led to a hard-line approach toward the North. Between 1998 and 2008, two South Korean presidents visited the North Korean capital. "If Moon Jae-in can transcend current domestic political mess, and approach this task from a higher vantage point, it would not only allow him to overcome South Korea's current strategic predicament, but it would surely see him shine in the annals of Korean history".

South Korea's president-elect Moon Jae-in speaks to supporters at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul, on May 9.

North Korea declared itself a nuclear power in 2005.

The South is also embroiled in a dispute with China over a controversial U.S. missile defence system, which Beijing sees as a threat. "If South Korea listens only to the U.S., they are destined to be "sold out" to a certain extent".

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