Trump to visit South Korea for talks on North's nukes: White House

Trump to visit South Korea for talks on North's nukes: White House

Donald Trump
FILE PHOTO: US President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, DC. (REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne)

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump will meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Seoul as part of his trip to the region in late June for the G20 summit in Japan, the White House said in a statement on Wednesday (May 15).

"President Trump and President Moon will continue their close coordination on efforts to achieve the final, fully verified denuclearisation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea," the White House said in a statement, using North Korea's official name.

The dovish South Korean president, who has long backed engagement with the nuclear-armed North, brokered the talks process between Trump and Kim, which led to their first landmark summit in Singapore last June.

But security allies Seoul and Washington have at times appeared to diverge on their approach to Pyongyang, and Seoul's simultaneous announcement of the visit was noticeably different in its phrasing.

A statement issued by the South's presidential office said the two leaders will discuss "establishing a lasting peace regime through the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula" - rather than the North specifically.

The "denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula" was the term used in the joint statement signed by Kim and Trump after their first summit in Singapore.

But it is a phrase open to wide interpretation, and the process has become bogged down as the two sides disagree over what it means.

Tensions between the United States and North Korea have ratcheted up since a failed summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam in February.

North Korea has tested two short-range missiles and fired a series of projectiles in recent weeks. They were the first missile launches by Pyongyang since it tested an intercontinental ballistic missile in November 2017.

Moon said last week that the missile launches were probably a protest against the United States after the failed Hanoi summit.

Trump downplayed the missile tests. In an interview with Politico last week, he called the launches "very standard stuff" and said he did not consider them a "breach of trust."

Washington has employed sanctions to pressure North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. Last week, the United States announced it had seized a North Korean cargo ship it accused of illicit coal shipments in violation of US and United Nations sanctions.

The Group of 20 summit will be held on Jun 28-29 in Osaka, Japan.

Source: Agencies/de/nc