Trump visits South Korea, urges North to 'make a deal'
US President Donald Trump landed in South Korea yesterday, the second stop in his ongoing East Asia tour. While observers expected Trump to continue with his aggressive rhetoric with North Korea, he took a rather conciliatory tone. He warned the North that the US is prepared to utilize its full military power if needed, while also urging it to "make a deal."
#TrumpInAsia: 'Era of strategic patience with North Korea is over'
On November 6, US President Donald Trump held discussions with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe on crucial matters of bilateral and global concern. However, as expected, his discussions with Abe focused largely on North Korea. Trump described the North's nuclear antics as "a threat to the civilized world." Speaking alongside Abe, he indicated that "the era of strategic patience with Pyongyang is over."
Growing nuclear threats from North Korea
In July, North Korea tested an Inter-continental ballistic-missile (ICBM) which purportedly brought the entire US within its strike range. In August, it threatened to launch a nuclear attack on the US-Pacific territory of Guam in response to Trump threatening it with "fire and fury." In September, Pyongyang tested a Hydrogen-bomb in its sixth and most powerful test and fired a second missile over Japan.
South Korea gives Trump red carpet treatment
Trump and First Lady Melania Trump landed at the Osan air base outside the capital city of Seoul. They were then welcomed in an elaborate ceremony at the Blue House in Seoul by top officials, including President Moon Jae-in. He later proceeded to Camp Humphreys, located about 100 km from the North Korean border and interacted with American troops and inspected US military assets.
What did Trump say?
Speaking in Seoul, Trump stated that he wouldn't hesitate to use the US's full military might against the North while adding that he "hopes to god" that he doesn't have to resort to that option. "It really makes sense for North Korea to come to the table and make a deal," he added while urging Pyongyang to "do the right thing."
Trump to Moon: "May your dreams come true"
Addressing reporters at the president's official residence, the Blue House, Trump praised Moon for his "great cooperation" despite past differences of opinion over handling North Korea. Moon stated that he hoped Trump's visit would reduce the South's anxieties. At a state dinner hosted at the Blue House, Trump raised a toast to Moon and said, "Mr President, may your dreams come true."
North Korea crisis: Is Trump open to negotiations now?
Trump has so far not shied away from engaging in a war-of-words with Kim Jong-un. In fact, he has expressed his disdain towards diplomacy as a means to handling North Korea multiple times. Signalling openness to negotiations marks a positive shift in Trump's approach. However, Kim is unlikely to negotiate, at least until Pyongyang perfects its missile capabilities to achieve a credible nuclear deterrence.