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Seoul should remind Trump of KORUS alliance's strategic value

Seoul should remind Trump of KORUS alliance's strategic value

Posted October. 18, 2017 07:35,   

Updated October. 18, 2017 08:20


U.S. President Donald Trump will visit Asian countries including South Korea, China, Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines from Nov. 3 to Nov. 14. This is the first time for the U.S. president to visit Asian countries since he took office. After visiting Japan, he will arrive in Seoul in the morning of Nov. 7 to have a summit meeting with President Moon Jae-in, and will head to China in the afternoon of Nov. 8. “The president’s engagements will strengthen the international resolve to confront the North Korean threat and ensure the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” the White House said in a statement. It is the first state visit of a U.S. president in 25 years since George W. Bush’s visit in 1992.

His Asia visit is focused on inspecting military option readiness posture to respond against nuclear and missile threats from North Korea by visiting U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii and U.S. Forces in Japan and Korea. It is a golden opportunity for South Korea to find a solution to North Korean nuclear and missile threats and to candidly discuss revision of the South Korea-U.S. FTA (KORUS FTA) at the same time.

Trump will deliver a speech at the National Assembly in Seoul, which is the first time in 24 years for a U.S. president since Bill Clinton gave a speech in 1993. “He will celebrate the enduring alliance and friendship between the United States and the Republic of Korea, and call on the international community to join together in maximizing pressure on North Korea,” said the White House. The main goal of the United States is to obtain national agreement on its policies to put pressure on Pyongyang by delivering a speech at the National Assembly. The ruling and the opposition parties of South Korea should make bipartisan efforts to help tighten the screw on the rogue regime.

Trump has two cards for North Korea: a dialogue and military actions. During his meetings with heads of state in South Korea, Japan and China, the U.S. president will try to clarify which card he is going to pick. President Moon has to ease concerns of the United States that Seoul is obsessed over talks with Pyongyang, and remind Trump of the risks of having a dialogue with North Korea without South Korea. “We need power to create and safeguard peace more than ever,” Moon said Tuesday, highlighting the importance of securing the nation’s defense industry capacity. Until then, we will have to overcome the security crisis on the Korean Peninsula by relying on the KORUS alliance.

I hope Moon could assure Trump that South Korea and the United States are partners who can create a win-win situation in security and economy while discussing the KOR-US FTA. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has put a lot of effort in the friendship with Trump. Abe even visited Trump’s private residence in Manhattan, New York in November last year before he was elected, and now talks explicitly with Trump. President Trump visited South Korea twice in 1998 and 1999. We might have to mobilize the network of Trump and his family in Korea if necessary. His visit to Korea falls right in between his visits to Japan and China. South Korea should not be a mere one-stop getaway. This time, South Korea should remind the U.S. president that South Korea has as much strategic value as Japan and China to eliminate “Korea Passing (Korea’s diplomatic isolation).”