DPRK, trade on sum­mit agenda

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

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.

NI­CHOLAS KAMM / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Don­ald Trump and Moon Jae-in shake hands be­fore din­ner at the White House in Wash­ing­ton on Thurs­day.

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