08:13 GMT29 November 2020
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    South Korean President Moon Jae-in completed his first official visit to the United States. There, the leader who promised to establish a dialogue with Pyongyang and who showed signs of making foreign policy decisions which were independent from the US was compelled to toe the line.

    The US president even managed to achieve maximum trade and economic concessions

    North Korean dilemma

    The main thing that interested the public during the visit of the South Korean President was the  North Korea issue, which had become aggravated in the last few months. 

    April 2017 saw a new high in the escalation between the US and the DPRK. Since then things have calmed down a little; however, during the press conference of Moon Jae-in and Trump, the US President said that strategic patience with regard to the DPRK is coming to an end.

    Trump called for increased pressure on Pyongyang, including the introduction of sanctions. 

    Irina Lantsova, an expert on the DPRK and South Korea at St. Petersburg State University told RT that the very term "strategic patience" used by Trump characterizes the policy of Barack Obama regarding North Korea.

    “This is a euphemism adopted in political circles to describe a wait-and-see course of action. Accordingly, Trump once again confirmed that he is going to pressure North Korea more actively,” Lantsova said.

    The South Korean president supported the statement of his American counterpart regarding North Korea, promising a firm response to any possible DPRK provocations. 

    At the same time, however, Jae-in stressed that he does not want to give up on attempts to establish a dialogue with his northern neighbor.

    South Korean diplomatic approach

    Yevgeniy Kim, the leading researcher at the Center for the Korean Studies, told RT that the latest statement shows that Jae-in, who won the elections on May 9, 2017 under the slogans of rapprochement between the two Koreas, did not abandon the policy of normalizing bilateral relations with the DPRK.

    However, during his visit to the United States, he was forced to adjust to the rhetoric of the US side.

    Kim further said that the outwardly tough rhetoric of the South Korean president during his visit to Washington, which emphasized the commitment to strengthening the defense alliance with the US in the fight against the North Korean nuclear threat, is due to two factors: firstly, the traditional status of the United States as the main ally of South Korea. Any leader in Seoul must take into account the opinion of the "elder brother" in the White House.

    The second reason is the active pro-American position of the right-wing parties in South Korea and the country’s army, which negatively perceives attempts to establish a dialogue with the DPRK.

    THAAD anti-missile defense systems

    Four THAAD units were deployed within South Korea. During his campaign, Moon Jae-in on a number of occasions expressed doubt regarding this decision by the previous South Korean leadership.

    A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during a successful intercept test, in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency
    © REUTERS / U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency/Handout
    He was actually in favor of coordinating the deployment of anti-ballistic missiles with China. 

    However, now Jae-in has inherited the intractable problem of US missile defense systems and the spoiled relations with China, which resulted in the imposed sanctions, not against the US, but against South Korea.

    During his trip to the US, the South Korean President said that he understood why China was concerned about the deployment of THAAD near its borders, but such economic measures against South Korea were unfair and he would strongly urge China to cancel them.

    Economic ties

    Talks about trade relations between the two countries took an important place during the visit. 

    According to the analysts, in this regard Donald Trump was even more harsh and aggressive than when it came to security. 

    Trump thinks that the United States is losing from the current free trade agreement with South Korea, which was set up back in 2011. He stressed that the situation, where the US is experiencing a trade deficit in relations with South Korea, is unacceptable.

    “Our trade deficit with South Korea increased by $11 billion,” Trump said, calling for a review of the deal.

    In particular, according to Trump, the US automakers should gain free access to the South Korean market, whereas now they face serious protectionist barriers. 

    Another problem raised by the US President is the export of Chinese steel to the US through South Korea, using preferences of the US-Korean agreement.

    US President Donald Trump welcomed his visiting South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in to the White House on Thursday, where they discussed a wide range of issues, including the North Korea dilemma and trade.

    "Just finished a very good meeting with the President of South Korea. Many subjects discussed including North Korea and new trade deal!" Trump tweeted.

    Related:

    Trump Meets President Moon: War or Peace in Korea?
    Trump Says Discussing ‘Many Options’ With Moon With Respect to N.Korea
    Trump, Moon Discuss Free Trade, North Korea Over Late-Night Dinner
    Let's Just Talk: North Korea Pushes South for Dialogue Without Preconditions
    Play Nice: China Encourages North and South Korea to Reconcile
    Tags:
    concessions, economic ties, official visit, strategic capabilities, bilateral relations, interview, THAAD missile defense system, RT, Moon Jae-in, Donald Trump, US, South Korea
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