U.S. President Donald Trump left for China on Wednesday after his two-day state visit to South Korea where his last engagements were a speech at the National Assembly and a tour of the Seoul National Cemetery.
During summit talks Tuesday, Trump and President Moon Jae-in agreed to step up their bilateral alliance and joint defense capabilities. They also agreed to a diplomatic resolution of the North Korea nuclear issue.
Moon and Trump reaffirmed the principle of peacefully resolving the North Korea problem and establishing lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. They also agreed to continue exerting maximum pressure and implementing sanctions on the regime to induce Pyongyang to engage in dialogue.
Military options on North Korea were not addressed with particular importance but neither were they excluded from consideration. However, the two leaders warned of a stern and overwhelming response if the North wages more provocations.
President Trump also dismissed concerns that South Korea could be bypassed in major policy decisions. He said that South Korea is very important to him and "there will be no skipping South Korea."
The two sides also saw eye to eye regarding the three major defense policy stances Seoul recently announced following its move to normalize relations with Beijing. These included no participation in the U.S. missile defense system, no further deployment of the THAAD antimissile battery, and its objection to the establishment of a trilateral military alliance with the U.S. and Japan.
But Moon and Trump agreed to continue security cooperation among the three allies, while Moon also emphasized the need for balanced diplomacy where Seoul values diplomacy with both the U.S. and China.
The two sides also agreed to considerably boost South Korea's defense capabilities as shown in the removal of payload restrictions on Korean missiles and Seoul's plan to purchase high-tech weapons from the U.S., possibly including a nuclear-powered submarine.
Regarding the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, strong U.S. pressure was anticipated but the U.S. simply called for close consultation to promote fair, free and reciprocal trade.
President Trump also gave a speech at the National Assembly, becoming the first U.S. leader to do so in 24 years.
Addressing the Korean parliament, he stressed the need for “peace through strength.”
Trump painted a bleak portrait of life in North Korea, and contrasted its poverty and desperation to thriving South Korea. He also warned Pyongyang not to underestimate or try the U.S.
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