Korean leader eyes North trip, Trump offers United States invite

Posted May 12, 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday congratulated Moon Jae-in on his election as South Korean president.

SOUTH Korea's President Moon Jae-in is to send special envoys to China to discuss issues concerning a United States missile defense system and North Korea.

"For a long time, China has upheld the goal of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, protecting the peace and stability of the peninsula and resolving the problem via dialogue and consultation", Xi said. I will fly immediately to Washington, I will go to Beijing and I will go to Tokyo. He has said he would be prepared to go to Pyongyang "if the conditions are right".

Moon was expected to fill the remaining Cabinet and presidential staff appointments swiftly to bring an end to a power vacuum left by the removal of Park Geun-hye in March in a corruption scandal that rocked South Korea's business and political elite.

Moon said he also hopes to meet Xi at an early date and Xi formally invited Moon to visit Beijing, the statement said.

Regarding THAAD, President Moon reportedly asked Xi to consider easing the restrictions China has placed on South Korean companies in the country.

In response, Moon said he would like to exercise wisdom to resolve various issues so the two East Asian neighbors can develop a good relationship.

But this would put South Korea at odds with the United States, where President Trump has vowed to use "maximum pressure" to force the North to give up its nuclear weapons program, and with an global community that is largely supportive of tougher sanctions.

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The first so-called "Track 2" talks since Trump took office in January dealt with nuclear issues, regional security and bilateral matters between Washington and Pyongyang, a person familiar with the discussions told Reuters, but declined to elaborate.

The sunshine policy was started in 1998 by Kim Dae-jung, a former pro-democracy activist who became South Korea's first liberal president.

Moon told Abe that most Koreans could not accept the agreement, according to the Blue House, while Japan's top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said Abe told him it was "extremely important" to implement it.

Beijing sees the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, newly installed in the South meant to guard against threats from the North, as a threat to its own military capabilities and has slapped a series of measures against South Korean businesses seen as economic retaliation. It said Moon told Abe that it was emotionally hard for South Koreans to accept the agreement.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also congratulated Mr Moon yesterday.

Mr Moon and the US President agreed "on close cooperation" to deal with the North's nuclear programme in a telephone conversation on Wednesday.

The call also touched on a controversial 2015 agreement over compensating South Korean women forced into sexual slavery by Japan's military in World War II, Moon's office said. -South Korea free trade pact and caused consternation by recounting China's President Xi Jinping's comment to him that Korea was once part of China.

Xi told Moon Seoul and Beijing should respect each other's concerns, set aside their differences, seek common ground and handle disputes appropriately, China's foreign ministry said in a statement.