Trump Using Trade Pressure to Gain Leverage on S.Korea

  • By Jeong Woo-sang, Cho Yi-jun

    April 02, 2018 11:07

    U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday that he may "postpone" the signing of a revised free trade agreement with Seoul until after negotiations about the scrapping of North Korea's nuclear weapons program are finalized.

    Speaking at an event in front of blue-collar workers in Richfield, Ohio, Trump said, "You know why? Because it's a very strong card." A day earlier Trump had described the revisions as a "wonderful deal with a wonderful ally," now he seems to want more from the South.

    It is unclear whether that is for more concessions in paying for the upkeep of the U.S. Forces Korea or for making sure that Seoul is on the same side with the hawkish U.S. approach to North Korea.

    White House national security adviser nominee John Bolton and other hawks in the U.S. government are pushing for a speedy, "Libyan" style solution of "complete, verifiable and irreversible" denuclearization of North Korea.

    But a key Cheong Wa Dae official met with reporters on Friday and said, "I believe a 'Libyan' style solution to North Korea would be impossible. The matter of verification and dismantlement of nuclear weapons has to be settled in stages." The official added, "The North Korean nuclear dilemma has existed for 25 years and we cannot end the problem by simply pulling the plug as if we are turning off the television."

    Trump said his planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will be "interesting" and added, "If it's no good, we're walking, and if it's good, we will embrace it."

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