Moon Jae-in, presidential candidate of the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP), said Friday the defense and security alliance between South Korea and the United States will remain strong, regardless of the election result in December.
"Whoever becomes the next South Korean president, the Korea-U.S. alliance will remain the same," said Moon during a meeting with Washington's former chief envoy to the six-party nuclear disarmament talks Christopher Hill at the National Assembly.
When Hill assumed the post, Moon was serving as chief presidential secretary during the Roh Moo-hyun administration.
"(Mr. Hill) has played a big role in attempting to resolve North Korea's nuclear issue via the six-party talks...the framework was also useful in terms of multilateral diplomacy in Northeast Asia," Moon added.
In response, Hill said Washington will also "begin its procedures to resume the six-party talks by next year."
The DUP candidate also reiterated his earlier pledges of deterring Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions by holding a South-North summit during his first year in office and having close discussions with key regional players such as the United States and China.
"In the process, it is essential for Seoul and Washington to maintain a close relationship," Moon told Hill.
The six-party talks have been stalled since 2009, when Pyongyang defiantly launched a long-range rocket that failed just after liftoff.
Tensions still linger on the Korean Peninsula that Pyongyang might carry out a third nuclear test.
Meanwhile, Moon's meeting with the former envoy comes in the middle of an ongoing war of words between the DUP and the ruling Saenuri Party over the late President Roh's alleged disavowal of the Northern Limit Line (NLL) when he met with late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in 2007.
The NLL is the de facto western sea border between the two Koreas. It was drawn by the U.S.-led United Nations Command at the end of the Korean War (1950-53). The North claims a new border should be drawn farther south of the existing NLL.
Moon has denied the Saenuri Party's claims, describing them as misleading propaganda designed to consolidate its conservative support ahead of the election.
It also comes at a time when Seoul is slated to regain wartime operational control of its troops from Washington in 2015. Many have expressed worries that the move could undermine Seoul's deterrence capabilities against North Korea's nuclear threat.
The liberal candidate recently came under fire for leaning too much toward a policy of engagement because the North has yet to apologize for two provocative attacks in 2010 that killed 50 South Koreans.