No force vow on North affirmed

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No force vow on North affirmed


U.S. President Donald Trump, right, meets with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, left, at the InterContinental Barclay hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Monday, in New York City. [AP/YONHAP]

NEW YORK - South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump had a summit in New York City for just over one hour and discussed the possible resumption of talks with North Korea over denuclearization.

At their ninth meeting as leaders of their countries, the two discussed bilateral alliance issues and economic cooperation, as well as the latest developments in North Korean affairs.

“The two leaders evaluated the North’s recently expressed intention to resume working-level talks [with the United States on denuclearization],” a senior presidential official said after the summit. “They also agreed that the talks must resume at the earliest date and produce substantial progress.”

“The two leaders reaffirmed the existing pledge that [South Korea and the United States] will not use military force against North Korea,” the official said. “They also reaffirmed the promise that a bright future will be offered to the North in return for denuclearization.”

According to the official, it was evident that Trump wants to stick to an agreement from his first summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore in June 2018.

Following their historic first meeting, Trump and Kim signed a four-point agreement. The two countries committed to establish U.S.-North Korea relations, and they also agreed to build a “lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.” North Korea also committed to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and two countries agreed to repatriate the remains of U.S. soldiers fallen during the Korean War (1950-53).

According to the official, Trump made no mention of a “new method” for holding denuclearization talks with the North.

While the two leaders mentioned the need to maintain sanctions on the North, no discussion took place between Moon and Trump on offering a guarantee of regime security to the North. Speculation had run high that Moon and Trump would address that issue, and Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said Sunday that offering security assurances would be a key part of the summit.

Possible plans to resume Mount Kumgang tours and reopen the Kaesong Industrial Complex were also not discussed, the official said.

In their opening remarks for the summit, Moon and Trump both stressed the importance of economic cooperation.

“During the course of my visit to New York, we’ll be signing the deal to increase the import of [liquefied natural gas or] LNG from America, while we’ll also be signing a deal regarding a joint venture between a South Korean motor company and an automotive vehicle company,” Moon said in opening remarks. “I believe that all of this will come to reinforce our already strong alliance.”

In his opening remarks, Trump said he and Moon would talk about the purchase of equipment. “South Korea is one of our largest purchasers of military equipment,” he said.

According to the Blue House, the two leaders discussed alliance issues and economic cooperation. “The two leaders confirmed that the South Korea-U.S. alliance remains the linchpin of peace and security of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia,” said Ko Min-jung, spokeswoman of the Blue House. “They also agreed to evolve and strengthen the alliance, including economic cooperation, toward a mutually beneficial and inclusive direction. They also agreed to closely cooperate to effectively tackle various challenges on the peninsula and in the region.”

As a part of economic cooperation, two major deals were signed during Moon’s trip, and the two leaders welcomed the developments, the senior Blue House official said.

South Korea’s state-run Korea Gas Corporation signed a deal with BP to buy an additional 1.58 million tons of U.S. liquefied natural gas for 15 years, starting in 2025. Hyundai Motor Group will also invest $1.6 billion in a joint venture to develop self-driving car technologies with autonomous driving technology company Aptiv.

According to the official, Moon and Trump also discussed negotiations on defense cost-sharing. “They each explained their basic stances,” the official said. “Moon stressed the importance of a fair and reasonable level of cost sharing.”

To back his argument, Moon gave detailed explanations to Trump on the consistent increases in Korea’s defense budget and cost-sharing for the U.S. Forces Korea as well as U.S.-built arms imports, including Seoul’s buying plans for the next three years, the official said.

At the beginning of their summit, Moon and Trump both expressed their hopes for the resumption of North Korea-U.S. dialogue, including another summit between Trump and Kim, but their tones differed slightly.

“I will be expecting the working-level negotiations between the United States and North Korea to prepare for the third - your third summit with Chairman Kim - to be resumed soon,” Moon told Trump in his opening remarks. “And when you have your third summit with Chairman Kim, maybe I hope that this will go down as a truly historic moment in world history. This will be a great achievement that equals a great transformation in terms of a complete denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.”

During a question and answer session before the summit, Trump also expressed his hope for another summit with Kim but made clear that he wants a solid outcome from it. “I want to know what’s going to be coming out of it,” he said. “We can know a lot before the summit takes place.”

Trump also said progress has been made in North Korea-U.S. relations. He said although Washington has not eased sanctions, the North returned hostages to the United States and repatriated the remains of U.S. soldiers from the Korean War.

“Plus, there’s been no nuclear testing at all for the last quite a long period of time, at least that we can detect,” Trump said. “And the relationships have been very good.”

Asked about the North’s recent firings of short-range missiles, Trump said he will discuss them with Moon but dismissed that they were a threat.

“We didn’t have an agreement on short-range missiles,” Trump said.

“And a lot of people and a lot of countries test short-range missiles; there’s nothing spectacular about that,” he said. “But we will be discussing that also.”

Trump also said stopping short-range missile tests was never discussed with Kim. “I didn’t really discuss that with Kim Jong-un. That was never a part of our discussion,” he said. “We did discuss nuclear testing and other things. And, frankly, he’s lived up to his word on those things that we discussed.”

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