South Korea’s President Moon to meet Trump in June

 

South Korea’s newly-elected President Moon Jae-in will travel to Washington late next month for a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, according to a spokesman for the presidential Blue House in Seoul.

The summit meeting will mark an early test of whether Moon’s policy of engagement with North Korea, primarily through economic cooperation, will mesh with Trump’s hard-line approach, which emphasizes economic pressure and the threat of military force in attempting to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

North Korea on Sunday said it test-fired a new type of ballistic missile capable of carrying a large nuclear warhead. South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo reiterated Tuesday Seoul’s policy that it would launch a pre-emptive strike if there were clear signs of an imminent missile attack by the North.

The arrangements for the presidential summit were made during a Tuesday morning meeting in Seoul between Matt Pottinger, the U.S. National Security Council’s senior director for East Asia, and Chung Eui-yong, a top foreign-policy adviser for Moon. There were no details on the schedule, agenda or other arrangements, which the Blue House said would be discussed through regular diplomatic channels.

At the meeting—during which Mr. Moon dropped by for seven minutes—Messrs. Pottinger and Chung exchanged opinions on North Korea’s weapons program and agreed to continue working closely to “completely denuclearize North Korea,” according to the Blue House statement.

The U.S. Embassy in Seoul said both countries agreed to seek “resolute and pragmatic” approaches to dealing with Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

All options would be considered, including sanctions and dialogue—provided the proper conditions for dialogue were in place, the Blue House said. Moon said he was “very satisfied” with his congratulatory call with Trump, and that he looked forward to meeting Trump.

Moon, South Korea’s first liberal president in nearly a decade, was elected by a wide margin last week during a snap presidential election following the impeachment of his predecessor. During his inauguration speech, Moon said he would be willing to travel to Pyongyang to seek a solution to North Korea’s rapidly-advancing weapons program.

North Korea’s newest missile could fly as far as 2,800 miles, experts say, which would be more than enough to reach the U.S. military base in Guam.

“The test-fire of Hwasong-12 is a grave warning to the U.S. and other hostile forces to make a proper choice with reason,” North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said Tuesday.

“The U.S. should not disregard or misjudge the reality that its mainland and Pacific operation zone are in the DPRK’s sighting range of strike and the DPRK has all powerful means for annihilating retaliatory strike,” KCNA said, using the acronym for North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

During his election campaign last year, Trump said that he would be willing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a hamburger if there was even a slight chance that doing so would lead to denuclearization.

During the Tuesday meeting, Pottinger also conveyed to his South Korean counterparts that Trump was “deeply impressed” by South Korea’s replacement of former President Park Geun-hye through a democratic process, according to the Blue House account.

Park was impeached by the country’s National Assembly in December as part of a wide-ranging corruption scandal, and was removed from office by the Constitutional Court in March following months of street demonstrations.


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