‘Please welcome Trump,’ begs Blue House

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‘Please welcome Trump,’ begs Blue House


Left: Members of pro-America civic groups stage a rally to welcome U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Korea in Daehangno, Jongno District, Seoul, on Saturday. Right: Members of anti-American civic groups hold a rally near the U.S. Embassy in central Seoul on Saturday to express their opposition to Trump’s visit to Korea. [YONHAP]

The Moon Jae-in administration issued a message to the Korean people on Sunday ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit, saying anti-American demonstrations wouldn’t be very hospitable.

“President Trump will make a state visit to Korea [on Tuesday and Wednesday],” presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun said Sunday. “The security crisis on the Korean Peninsula such as North Korean nuclear and missile threats is extremely grave, and comprehensive cooperation between South Korea and the United States in political, economic and military fields is more important than ever.”

Park said the Moon administration wants to use the visit as an opportunity to help the Korea-U.S. alliance by receiving Trump with a heartwarming welcome.

“It is our long-held tradition to show hospitality to a guest,” Park said. “We can confirm the alliance through this. I urge the people to warmly receive Trump.”

Ahead of Trump’s arrival, rallies to both protest and welcome the U.S. leader’s visit are being planned. During his stay on Tuesday and Wednesday, the police said 109 demonstrations ­- both anti- and pro-American - are scheduled.

“The Blue House message, of course, took into account the protest plans,” a senior presidential aide said. “Preventing all threats is the principle for protecting a visiting foreign president. The people may feel a little uncomfortable, and we are seeking the public understanding for the beefed-up security measures.”

Last week, the police issued the first-ever ban on rallies near the Blue House during Trump’s visit. The police and Presidential Security Service decided to designate a special security zone near the Blue House and the U.S. Embassy to ban rallies and temporarily restrict public traffic.

The government allowed anti-American and pro-American rallies at two locations near the Blue House on Tuesday, when Trump is scheduled to have a summit with Moon and attend a state dinner.

An anti-American rally will take place in Palpan-dong, Jongno District, central Seoul, on the right side of Gyeongbok Palace, while a pro-American rally will take place in Hyoja-dong, on the left side of the palace.

An alliance of 220 progressive civic groups is leading the anti-American protests. They held demonstrations over the weekend and issued a statement on Saturday to protest Trump’s visit.

“Trump has exerted trade pressures on other countries and fostered discrimination in the United States,” it said. “There is no reason for Trump to come to Korea. The upcoming summit, expected to threaten the peninsula and aimed at expanding military pressures and sanctions, is undesirable.”

The alliance will hold a press conference 11 a.m. on Tuesday in Palpan-dong, about 100 meters away from the press center of the Blue House. They will also hold a candlelight vigil at Gwanghwamun Square at 7 p.m., and march toward a hotel in Yongsan District, where Trump will reportedly stay.

They will move the protest venue to the National Assembly on Wednesday, as Trump is scheduled to give a speech before the lawmakers.

“We will make sure that freedom of expression and assembly will be guaranteed,” a police official said. “But any action that could be a threat will be sternly punished.”

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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