Moon vows to pursue closer ties with N.Korea, US

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has stressed his intention in a New Year speech to improve ties with North Korea in cooperation with the United States.

In the televised address on Monday, Moon touched on issues including the coronavirus outbreak, the economy and diplomacy.

Referring to the inauguration of US President-elect Joe Biden on January 20, Moon said his government will strengthen the alliance with the US. He also said he will make "final efforts to achieve a major breakthrough in the stalled North Korea-US and inter-Korean dialogue."

Moon noted the two Koreas can cooperate in many aspects on issues such as the coronavirus pandemic and natural disasters.

He added his government's determination to meet the North Korean side anytime, anywhere, even in a non-face-to-face formula, remains unchanged.

His mention of neighboring Japan was brief, saying that his government will "continue to strive for forward-looking Korea-Japan relations."

Moon made no mention of a ruling given last Friday by a South Korean court that ordered the Japanese government to pay damages to those referred to as wartime comfort women.

Japan has filed a strong protest with the South Korean side over the last Friday's ruling, saying it is highly regrettable and the Japanese government can never accept it. Japan maintains that all issues of reparations were settled in 1965 when the two countries normalized relations.