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2017-11-07 16:47
US leader reassuring on NK, shrewd on trade

 

Visiting U.S. President Donald Trump has shown he is up to the job of resolving North Korea’s nuclear and missile challenge through a broad international coalition.

However tattered his image may be on the home front, Trump’s performance in Seoul, on the first day of his two-day visit, was reassuring. In a joint press conference after a summit with President Moon Jae-in, he stated Korea was important and there has been no skipping it in important decision making. His assurances were strong enough to put Moon’s detractors to shame over their severe inferiority complex.

Trump never let up on his tactic of maximizing pressure on the North with the purpose of leading the thug state to the negotiating table. President Moon, known to be a reluctant rider on the Trump bandwagon, agreed that there was no disagreement with Trump regarding the North.

The U.S. leader notched up the pressure tactic by observing the present deployment of three U.S. aircraft carriers plus nuclear submarines near the Korean Peninsula, making the listeners, certainly North Korean leader Kim Jong-un included, appreciate how peace could be made an attack weapon of choice.

Then, Trump praised China’s Xi Jinping for his efforts and made an uncalled-for reference to Russia to complete the inadvertent coalition aimed at separating the North from its weapons of mass destruction.

From Moon’s perspective, he has gains and losses evened out. Trump’s commitment to deploying more strategic assets will ease concerns about a second Korean War when the PyeongChang Winter Olympics are only three months away. But his hope of gaining a degree of independence in North Korean policy has been thrown into superpower politics and chewed up.

At one point in the news conference, Moon conceded establishing a peaceful regime in North Korea is premature, which is tantamount to rejecting China’s peace proposal and accepting the continuation of the Cold War status quo.

In a masterstroke by Trump the businessman, he stepped unsolicited into the middle of Moon’s answer and stated Korea has agreed to buy billions of U.S. weapons and there is already progress, which Trump said is good for the American people. The problem is that the purchases may include some white elephant items such as JSTARS surveillance aircraft.

Trump didn’t talk about ditching the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement but still called the deal unfair for America. Seoul apparently made a drastic change on its position that the deal was mutually beneficial to accommodate the U.S. demands. That was a relief to Korea and its chief trade negotiator Kim Hyun-chong.

From the summit, Trump has proved not as unpredictable as said and, given the right incentive, he could turn into a valuable friend. That is a point the Moon government must take into account when dealing with the world’s most powerful leader. 

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