Trump could face thorny issues on South Korea visit

Independent Alliance TD John Halligan and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

The announcement came a day ahead of US President Donald Trump's visit to South Korea as part of his 12-day Asia tour, where he is expected to discuss North Korea's nuclear and missile programme at length with government officials here.

The president has threatened to unleash "fire and fury" on North Korea and warned that he may be forced to "totally destroy" the rogue state.

Trump did not wait for an official address to launch a verbal attack against North Korea.

Renegotiating South Korea's bilateral free trade agreement with the USA, dubbed KORUS, is likely be high on the agenda during the Trump-Moon summit.

Trump is also seeking to renegotiate the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement, which experts believe could further strain the alliance at a time when they should be showing unity and resolve.

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A almost three-year war on the Korean peninsula in the early 1950s ended in a stalemate that pitted the United States, South Korea and the United Nations against North Korea, which was backed by forces from China and the Soviet Union.

"This is a country that grew out of the total devastation of the Korean War, and over a matter of six, seven decades we've become a thriving democracy. and a thriving market economy", the foreign minister said.

South Korea now pays more than 900 billion won ($800 million) annually and negotiations with the United States are to start in the coming months to try to determine a new amount for South Korea to contribute.

The Trump administration "has failed to articulate any plans to prevent the military conflict from expanding beyond the Korean peninsula and to manage what happens after the conflict is over".

Recent drills over South Korea by two USA strategic bombers have further raised tensions. There he will ask Chinese President Xi Jinping to do more to rein in North Korea.

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Trump's trip comes amid escalating tensions with North Korea, which has continued to pursue its missile and nuclear programs and ramped up its missile testing.

However, Kang highlighted a month-and-a-half lull in "provocations", suggesting that the "message is getting through" to North Korea. "The regime continues development of its unlawful weapons programs including its illegal nuclear tests and outrageous launches of ballistic missiles directly over Japanese territory are a threat to the civilized world and global peace and stability".

Trump repeated that the era of strategic patience, in attempting to deal with Pyongyang, is over.

"This is reflective of the sense of insecurity on the part of the South Koreans that they don't have that protection from the United States and the United States may be more willing under President Trump to really throw them under the bus", Lee said.

Trump labelled Moon's dovish approach to North Korea as "appeasement" on Twitter, a comment that did not go down well in Seoul's presidential Blue House. It also wants nothing short of full normalization of relations with the USA and to be treated with respect and as an equal in the global arena.

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