WASHINGTON, June 30 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump were set to hold bilateral talks Friday over a wide range of issues that will likely include ways to strengthen the countries’ alliance and their joints efforts to rid North Korea of nuclear weapons.
The first bilateral summit between the two leaders was set to begin at 10:15 a.m. at the White House. The 30-minute one-on-one meeting will quickly be followed by what Seoul officials have called an “expanded summit” that will include top officials from both countries.
The talks will likely focus on ways to further develop the countries’ traditional alliance as they struggle to rein in North Korea’s evolving nuclear and missile threats.’
Pyongyang has staged five missile tests since the new South Korean administration came into office on May 10.
And to ensure their joint efforts, officials from South Korea’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said it was imperative for the countries’ leaders to form a close personal relationship.
“We hope the two heads of state will form a close relationship and trust, so they will establish a close consultative mechanism through telephone conversations whenever necessary, reciprocal visits and multilateral meetings,” Chung Eui-yong, Moon’s top security adviser and head of the presidential National Security Office, said earlier.
Since his arrival here Wednesday, Moon has been provided with what South Korean officials called the highest formalities afforded to a foreign leader, apparently reflecting the importance Trump and his administration place on the Korea-U.S. alliance.
Further raising the hope for a positive outcome of their meeting, the two leaders were seen holding what South Korean officials called “frank and serious” discussions on various issues over a White House dinner held on the eve of their summit.
Still, Moon and Trump are seen divided over how to contain the provocative North with the new South Korean leader considered more sympathetic towards North Korea.
Moon apparently sought to remove such concerns earlier, stressing a need to impose additional and stronger sanctions against the communist state if the North conducts a sixth nuclear test or an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test.
He has also called for immediate actions to halt the North’s missile tests, noting the country may possess an ICBM that can target U.S. mainland in the “not too distant future.”
Other thorny issues also await the two leaders in their first-ever summit.
The U.S. has made clear of its plan to address the country’s trade deficit with South Korea at the upcoming summit, one of reasons for its demand to renegotiate the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement that went into effect in March 2012.
Moon, on the other hand, insists the free trade deal is mutually beneficial, noting the U.S. is the world’s largest destination for South Korean investment that greatly helps create new jobs here.
Partly proving Moon’s point, a group of business representatives from 52 South Korean firms accompanying the South Korean president on his current trip to the U.S. announced a plan to jointly make a fresh US$12.8 billion investment in the United States over the next five years.
“Investment by businesses of South Korea and the U.S. in each others’ country is greatly contributing to creating new jobs in the countries,” Moon said Wednesday while meeting with some 170 business leaders from both countries here in a business summit jointly hosted by the countries’ chambers of commerce.
Following their summit at the White House, Moon and Trump will hold a joint press conference where they will issue a joint statement on the outcome of their talks, according to Cheong Wa Dae.