President Trump wouldn’t say in South Korea today whether diplomacy can work to avert conflict with North Korea, just that “it makes sense for North Korea to do the right thing, not only for North Korea, but for humanity all over the world.”
At a press conference in Seoul with President Moon Jae-in, Trump declared “we’re making a lot of progress” on the nuclear standoff with the reclusive communist nation. “I think we’re showing great strength. I think they understand we have unparalleled strength. There has never been strength like it,” he added.
“You know we sent three of the largest aircraft carriers in the world, and they’re right now positioned. We have a nuclear submarine also positioned. We have many things happening that we hope, we hope — in fact, I’ll go a step further, we hope to God we never have to use,” he said. “With that being said, I really believe that it makes sense for North Korea to come to the table and to make a deal that’s good for the people of North Korea and the people of the world. I do see certain movement, yes. But let’s see what happens.”
Trump has vacillated between saying he’d be “honored” to sit down with Kim Jong-un to calling it a waste of time. Asked today about the prospect of direct talks with the dictator, he replied, “I just don’t want to say that. You can understand that.”
Moon told reporters that “when it comes to the state of our reconnaissance assets and the strategy assets — on acquisition of this U.S. strategy assets, we have agreed to begin the consultations for Korea’s acquisition of such assets.”
“And that is to enhance Korea’s defense capabilities and also the combined defense posture of Korea and the United States,” the South Korean leader added. “I think it is essential.”
Trump chimed in that Seoul would be buying a “tremendous” amount of military equipment. “We make the greatest military equipment in the world, whether it’s planes, whether it’s missiles. No matter what it is, we have the greatest military equipment in the world. And South Korea will be ordering billions of dollars of that equipment, which, frankly, for them makes a lot of sense,” he said.
Moon stressed that “to establish permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula and to resolve the nuclear problem, I think there’s role to be played by the United States and China.”
“And if our international society’s efforts bear fruits and if we can really make a turnaround, then I’m sure that we will be able to bring North Korea to the table of dialogue,” he predicted. “And through such dialogue, I am very confident that we can freeze a nuclear program and ultimately dismantle the weapons of the DPRK entirely.”
Moon also dangled a carrot, noting that “should North Korea choose to make the right choice, we also reaffirmed our view that we are willing to offer North Korea a bright future.”
“I sincerely hope that President Trump’s visit at this time will be a turning point for the situation on the Korean Peninsula in a stable manner,” he said.
Before a formal state dinner with Moon, Trump ate lunch at Camp Humphreys with rows of alternating U.S. and Korean troops.
“I had a choice of having a beautiful, very fancy lunch, and I said, no, I want to eat with the troops,” he said.