DPRK, trade on summit agenda
WASHINGTON — Moon Jae-in, new president of the Republic of Korea, dined with US President Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday as part of an effort to reassure Washington he will coordinate closely on dealing with the Korean Peninsula issue.
Trump said at the start of the formal dinner that he and Moon would discuss the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea issue and trade over two days of meetings.
Moon has sought to make clear to the US that he is serious about dealing with his neighbor’s threat, despite having long advocated engagement with Pyongyang to address its nuclear weapons development.
“I know you’ve been discussing with our people some of the complexities of North Korea and trade and other things, and we’ll be discussing them all as we progress,” Trump told Moon.
Trump later tweeted that he had a “very good meeting” with Moon in which they discussed the DPRK and a “new trade deal.”
Moon’s position could cause strains with Trump, who wants to step up pressure on Pyongyang.
“We have a lot to work together for,” Republican Speaker Paul Ryan said as top House lawmakers sat down with Moon on Capitol Hill before the White House visit.
Moon began his four-day visit, his first overseas trip since taking office last month, with a powerful symbolic show of his personal commitment to the US-ROK Korean alliance.
Moon’s conservative predecessor, who was impeached in a bribery scandal, took a hard line toward Pyongyang. Moon has sought to allay concerns that his softer stance could open fissures with Washington.
He said sanctions alone cannot solve the problem, but the “right conditions” are needed for dialogue.
Trump and first lady Melania Trump welcomed Moon and his wife Kim Jung-sook to the White House, where the two leaders will hold formal talks on Friday.
Moon appeared to try to break the ice early on during the dinner, telling Trump that he also suffers from “fake news” coverage, prompting laughs. Trump has used the term to describe media reports he doesn’t like.
Addressing US business leaders on Wednesday, Moon called for further expansion of job-creating economic ties between the allies, which adopted a free trade agreement in 2012. He even looked forward to a time when peace on the divided Korean Peninsula would open up business opportunities inside the DPRK.
ROK companies on Thursday announced plans to import more US shale gas and build new factories in the US. That could help fend off criticism from Trump over the US trade deficit with South Korea, which totaled $17 billion last year.
Donald Trump and Moon Jae-in shake hands before dinner at the White House in Washington on Thursday.