President Moon…”Straight to Work!”


President Moon Jae-in talks with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump on Wednesday night in his private residence in Hongeun-dong, western Seoul. The telephone conversation lasted half an hour. YONHAP

President Moon Jae-in talks with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump on Wednesday night in his private residence in Hongeun-dong, western Seoul. The telephone conversation lasted half an hour. YONHAP


Moon talks to Trump, early meeting promised

[Joongang Daily]

The leaders of South Korea and the United States on Wednesday vowed to maintain close cooperation in handling North Korea’s nuclear threats in their first phone talks, Seoul’s presidential office said.

President Moon Jae-in and U.S. counterpart Donald Trump also agreed to hold a meeting as early as possible to discuss North Korea and other pending issues.

The liberal leader won a widely expected victory in Tuesday’s election triggered by the March 10 ouster of his scandal-hit predecessor, Park Geun-hye. He was sworn in earlier on Wednesday.

During the 30-minute talks that began at 10:30 p.m. (Korea time), Moon said, “The South Korea-U.S. alliance is more important than at any other time given the growing uncertainties over the security situation of the Korean Peninsula.”

Moon also called the Seoul-Washington alliance the “foundation” of South Korea’s diplomatic and security policy, while noting that Trump has put the North’s provocations and nuclear problem atop his security agenda.

Trump expressed “respect” for South Koreans’ choice of Moon as the new president, and said that the North Korean conundrum, though challenging, can be resolved, the presidential office, Cheong Wa Dae, said in a press release.

The U.S. leader, then, said that he would officially invite Moon to Washington.

In response, Moon voiced hopes that he could meet Trump in Washington as soon as possible for “heart-to-heart” talks. He also said he would send a special diplomatic delegation to the U.S. at the “earliest date.”

In Washington, the White House said that Trump congratulated Moon on “his great election victory and their peaceful, democratic transition of power.”

“President Trump and President Moon agreed to continue to strengthen the United States-Republic of Korea alliance and to deepen the enduring friendship between our two countries. President Trump said he looks forward to working with President Moon and invited him to visit Washington at an early date. President Moon accepted the invitation,” it said.

Their talks came amid growing concerns that tensions could flare in the alliance due to the leaders’ differences over a set of security issues such as how to handle a provocative North Korea and the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system to the peninsula.

Moon seeks dialogue with the North, while Trump’s approach to the wayward regime focuses on “maximum pressure and engagement.” Moon has also called for a delay in the installation of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery here, citing the need to forge public consensus. He has demanded the decision should be subject to parliamentary approval.


Moon sworn in, offers to visit N. Korea

[Korea Times]

Moon pledges to become ‘president for all the people’

By Kim Rahn

President Moon Jae-in took the oath of office Wednesday, and offered to visit Pyongyang if conditions were met to help resolve the deadlock over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

In a message to the people delivered at the National Assembly, he said he would also go to Washington as soon as possible if necessary.

To address security problems on the Korean Peninsula, Moon said after taking the oath, “I’ll fly to Washington, Beijing and Tokyo soon if necessary. And I’ll go to Pyongyang if conditions are met. I’ll do everything I can for peace on the peninsula.”

Suh Hoon, the nominee for National Intelligence Service chief, reiterated Moon’s remark.

“Relations between the two Koreas have been strained,” Suh told reporters at Cheong Wa Dae after being nominated to the post. “It may be premature to talk about an inter-Korean summit. But still, such a summit is needed. The president may visit Pyongyang only when the visit can play a catalytic role in relieving military tension on the peninsula and resolving the nuclear deadlock.”

Earlier this year, Moon said he would visit Pyongyang before Washington, and this remark was attacked by presidential rivals who claimed he was a North Korea sympathizer. Moon later said he had meant he could go to Pyongyang after sufficient prior discussion with the U.S. and Japan if it would help resolve the North’s nuclear issue.

Regarding his plan for a prompt visit to Washington, it is expected the two countries will also seek a summit as early as possible. Elected heads of the two countries have not had contact for almost half a year following the change of president in the U.S., and the corruption scandal that led to the impeachment and removal from office of former President Park Geun-hye.

For the deployment of a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery here and China’s retaliatory measures against it, Moon said he would seriously discuss the issue with the U.S. and China.

During his election campaign, Moon kept saying that the new government should deal with the THAAD issue, not the Park administration, adding it required National Assembly approval and a public consensus.

National unity

The new president also called for national unity, trying to embrace the opposition parties and conservative voters who did not support him.

“I promise: May 10 of 2017 will be recorded in history as the day when true national unity began,” he said. “From now on, I will become a president for all the people. Those who did not support me are also people of the country. I’ll serve them.”

To make Korea a fair and transparent country, he said he would root out the authoritarian presidential culture, limit presidential power and make inspection bodies totally independent from politics.

Moon said he would make efforts to create jobs, reform chaebol, eradicate corrupt ties between politics and business, and resolve regional and generational disputes. “In the Moon government, people will have equal opportunities, fair due process and righteous results.”

Earlier in the day, Moon visited the leaders of four opposition parties whose candidates he competed with — the Liberty Korea Party, the Bareun Party, the People’s Party and the Justice Party.

This was the first time for a new president to visit the opposition parties’ headquarters, showing his will to achieve national unity especially after the divide between conservatives and liberals during the election.

Moon told them he would communicate and negotiate with them as “partners” in managing state affairs during his five years in office.

The new leader said he would form his government under the principle of “grand unity” and fairness and seek the opposition parties’ cooperation, saying, “It takes two to tango.”

“Politics should show unity to the people, not conflict and schisms,” he said.

Moon also said he would share important security information with the opposition parties.


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