Trump says N. Korea not breaking summit deal, talks about S. Korea’s arms purchase
NEW YORK-- The presidents of South Korea and the United States -- Moon Jae-in and Donald Trump -- agreed to accelerate the Korea peace process on the basis of last year's Singapore summit deal between Washington and Pyongyang, as the two sides look set to restart nuclear talks soon.
Moon and Trump "exchanged opinions on methods to pull off substantive accomplishments at an early date in North Korea-U.S. working-level negotiations," Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson, Ko Min-jung, said in a statement.
It marked their first summit since they met in Seoul and had a separate gathering, joined by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at the DMZ village of Panmunjom at the end of June. They are in New York to attend the annual General Assembly session of the United Nations.
Briefly speaking to reporters ahead of the summit with Moon, Trump said the North's leader is not breaking a summit agreement.
He played down the North's recent firing of short-range missiles and what it claims to be artillery rockets.
"We have discussed nuclear testing and other things. And frankly and he has lived up to his word on those things," Trump said. "We didn't have agreement on short range missiles. A lot of people and a lot of countries test short range missiles; there is nothing spectacular about that."
He added, "If I weren't president you would be in a war with North Korea right now."
Asked about the possibility of more talks with Kim, he indicated that he would wait for the results of the working-level talks likely to be held in the coming weeks.
"We will see. Right now, people like to see (the summit) happen. I want to know what is going to be coming out of it," Trump said.
Seated next to the flamboyant president, Moon agreed that Trump has contributed to denuclearization and peace-building efforts.
"Your visit to Panmunjom will go down as a historic moment that embodied peace through action. And I have to say that I always marvel at your imagination and bold decision-making," Moon told Trump.
Moon said the U.S. and North Korea are expected to resume working-level nuclear talks soon, which are likely to lead to a third full summit between Kim and Trump.
Moon said that the summit, if held, would "go down as a truly historic moment in world history."
"This will be a great achievement that equals a great transformation in terms of the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," he said.
Moon and Trump also reaffirmed a commitment to avoiding the use of military force against North Korea and offering a better future for the communist nation if it denuclearizes, according to another Cheong Wa Dae official who spoke on background.
Moon and Trump also discussed economic partnerships and pending alliance issues, as their summit, held at the InterContinental New York Barclay Hotel, lasted over an hour, far longer than scheduled.
They reaffirmed that the robust Seoul-Washington alliance, which is a key pillar of regional peace and security, remains unshaken "with no doubt," the two Cheong Wa Dae officials said.
They had "in-depth discussions" on how to develop the alliance in a "mutually beneficial and comprehensive" way, they said.
Regarding the upcoming talks on splitting the cost for the presence of the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), Moon told Trump his government is open to sharing the cost on a "reasonable and fair" level, a Cheong Wa Dae official told reporters on background.
Trump apparently wants South Korea to sharply increase its financial contribution to maintaining the 28,500-strong USFK.
Moon "emphasized a reasonable level of fair sharing" of the cost, the official said, as the two sides are scheduled to begin a new round of Special Measures Agreement (SMA) negotiations.
Under this year's SMA, signed in February, South Korea agreed to pay 1.04 trillion won (US$870 million) this year, an 8.2-percent increase from its share in 2018.
Before the summit, Trump said, "We'll be talking the purchase of equipment."
He pointed out that South Korea is one of the largest purchasers of American military equipment.
Moon cited a steady increase in South Korea's spending on national defense, purchase of U.S. weapons and its sharing of the USFK cost.
He briefed Trump on Seoul's purchase of American military equipment over the past decade and its plan to buy more in the next three years.
"Especially in the economic field, we have been able to revise a bilateral free trade agreement, and that has been a great success, while many Korean companies are increasing their investment in America," Moon said.
But they did not touch on the sensitive subject of Seoul's decision not to renew a bilateral accord with Japan on exchanging military information, the officials said.
Source: Yonhap News Agency