ROK President Moon Jae-in arrives to meet Trump

World Today

The President of the Republic of Korea, Moon Jae-in is in Washington. 

He’s on his first official working visit to the United States, and besides meeting with business leaders here, he will also be meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.  

Will the two leaders see eye-to-see on some key, controversial issues like the anti-defense system in Seoul? 

CGTN’s Jessica Stone reports.

Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in comes to Washington — significantly far away from U.S. positions on key defense issues on the peninsula. On Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions – President Moon advocates engagement.

“I certainly hope that the conditions could become right for such a dialogue before the end of the year,” Moon told CBS earlier in an interview which aired earlier this week.

U.S. President Donald Trump once suggested he might talk to the DPRK’s leader, Kim Jong Un, but has pursued a policy of quote: “maximum pressure.”

A White House official tells reporters that the strategy needs more time: “We are adding pressure and have only begun to do so. To say pressure has not worked, it’s a little early to say that.”

In a round of interviews ahead of his visit, President Moon softened his position, saying, Trump’s role in resolving the Korean nuclear issue is key.

“I believe if President Trump continues to place this issue as the top of his priorities, then I am sure we will be able to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue,” said Moon.

But Moon said China’s role is also critical, and he plans to press Beijing to increase its pressure on Pyongyang.

“China provides the most economic assistance to North Korea. Without the cooperation of China in international sanctions done by the U.N. Security Council resolutions, these sanctions will not be effective at all,” said Moon.

Earlier this month, a top moon adviser, Moon Chung-in, said President Moon might suggest Washington scale back its military exercises with Seoul and quote: “… scale down deployment of American strategic weapons over the Korean Peninsula,” in exchange for Pyongyang’s agreement to suspend nuclear activities – a strategy Beijing has endorsed as the so-called “dual track approach.”

And like Beijing, Moon has opposed the American anti-missile defense system known as THAAD. He’s suspended its deployment, pending a review. Washington said that’s not a firm indication that Moon plans to reverse its decision.

Another thorny issue the leaders are likely to take up  is trade. On the campaign trail, Trump threatened to rip up the Korea Free Trade Agreement. A White House official said Trump plans to raise the issue of the ROK’s $27 billion trade deficit with the U.S.

A Korean official tells CGTN the original plan for a joint press conference on Friday where both leaders would take questions was changed a few days ago to statements only.

Tong Zhao discusses nuclear disarmament in Asia

CGTN’s Elaine Reyes talks to Tong Zhao, a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace in Beijing, about the issues likely to be discussed when U.S. President Trump meets with ROK President Moon Jae-in