Reuters

Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in vow tougher response to North Korea’s nuclear program

1 July 2017

 

 

United States President Donald Trump has called for a determined response to North Korea after talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House.

Key points:

  • Trump urges North Korea to “choose a better path”
  • South Korea’s leader promised a stern response to provocation from the North
  • Trump tells his guest South Korea will have to pay more for defence

However, while Mr Trump emphasised the importance of the US-South Korea alliance, he also took aim at Seoul over trade and sharing the cost of defence.

Mr Trump reiterated that an era of “strategic patience” over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs had ended.

“Together we are facing the threat of the reckless and brutal regime in North Korea,” Mr Trump said while standing alongside Moon in the White House Rose Garden.

“The nuclear and ballistic missile programs of that regime requires a determined response.

“We’re working closely with South Korea and Japan, as well as partners around the world, on a range of diplomatic, security and economic measures to protect our allies and our own citizens from this menace known as North Korea.”

He called on regional powers to implement sanctions and demand North Korea “choose a better path and do it quickly”.

Mr Moon said he and Mr Trump had placed top priority on the North Korean issue and urged Pyongyang to return promptly to talks.

“President Trump and I agreed that only strong security can bring about genuine peace,” he said.

“The threat and provocation of the North will be met with a stern response.”

 

Mr Moon added that in an effort to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, the two leaders would employ both sanctions and dialogue “in a phased and comprehensive approach”.

Both countries’ presidents have said they are open to renewed dialogue with North Korea, but only under circumstances that will lead to North Korea giving up its weapons programs.

Mr Trump wants China, North Korea’s neighbour and main trading partner to do more to rein in its ally through sanctions.

He sought to woo China after a summit meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in April, but has grown frustrated that their relationship has not resulted in stronger action.

Trump calls for trade ‘level playing field’

While South Korea is a long-standing American ally, Mr Trump spoke harshly about US trade imbalances and threatened to tear up the bilateral trade pact.

He said the United States was renegotiating what he characteriSed as a “rough” trade deal with South Korea agreed five years ago by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

“We will do more to remove barriers to reciprocal trade and market access,” Mr Trump said, adding that the two leaders had talked about the thorny trade areas of steel and autos.

“I am encouraged by President Moon’s assurances that he will work to create a level playing field so that American workers and businesses, and especially automakers, can have a fair shake at dealing with South Korea,” he said.

The US goods trade deficit with South Korea has more than doubled since the KORUS pact took effect in 2012.

Mr Trump also stressed the need to ensure equitable sharing of costs for defence, returning to a theme he had raised during his campaign that he has also brought up with other allies, including NATO countries and Japan.

Reuters