Blue House denies a Trump stop

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Blue House denies a Trump stop

The Blue House on Thursday denied an opposition lawmaker’s assertion that U.S. President Donald Trump has agreed to consider stopping in Korea after a high-profile trip to Japan in May, following President Moon Jae-in’s repeated requests for a visit.

“Leaders of the two countries agreed Tuesday on the principle that President Trump will visit Korea in the near future,” said Ko Min-jung, Moon’s spokeswoman.

“They agreed that the two countries’ national security councils will discuss the specific time and schedules. I want to make it clear that the argument of Rep. Khang [Hyo-sang] is not true.”

Rep. Khang of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party held a press conference at the National Assembly earlier Thursday and claimed that a possible trip by Trump to Korea was discussed in detail when Moon had a phone conversation with the U.S. president Tuesday night.

Khang said Moon asked Trump to visit Korea at the end of May.

The lawmaker said Moon repeated an invitation he extended during his summit with Trump in Washington in April.

Trump is scheduled to visit Japan as the first foreign guest of new Emperor Naruhito from May 25 to 28. He is also scheduled to visit Japan again in June to attend the Group of 20 Summit.

“Moon tried to persuade Trump that the Korean people desire his visit,” Khang said. “Moon also persuaded him that the visit is necessary to send a message to North Korea.”

According to Khang, Trump said Moon’s invitation was an interesting proposal and he would ask his National Security Adviser John Bolton to review the possibility of having a visit.

The lawmaker also said the U.S. president replied that it would be enough to briefly stop in Korea after his visit to Japan. Trump reportedly said it may be possible to meet with Moon in front of the U.S. Forces Korea.

Khang also said that Moon had refused Washington’s proposal that Bolton visit Korea at the end of May. “According to information offered by intelligence sources in the United States and diplomatic sources in Korea and overseas, Moon refused a plan for Bolton to visit Korea alone,” he said. “The Blue House said it won’t be necessary for Bolton to visit alone without Trump.”

The opposition lawmaker said he decided to make public the details of the conversation between the two presidents because Trump’s visit would be important for the Korea-U.S. alliance, inter-Korean relations and denuclearization negotiations with the North.

The Blue House was furious. “It is a principle that the specifics of a phone conversation between state leaders won’t be made public,” said Ko. “Khang must take responsibility for his irresponsibility, as well as groundless argument.”

She also said Washington had hoped to send Bolton to Korea after Trump’s visit to Japan, but Seoul requested an earlier visit by the national security adviser because Korea is scheduled to have military and civilian exercises during the proposed period.

“We are currently coordinating the schedule,” she said.

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