February 14, 2020 10:17
President Moon Jae-in wants to meet his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump in late March, just ahead of the general elections on April 15.
It would be their first meeting in the six months since they sat down in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last September.
"Cheong Wa Dae has recently sounded out the possibility of a summit with Trump through various channels," a government source here said Thursday. "Cheong Wa Dae keeps trying, though it's unlikely that they will meet given Trump's busy schedule in his own presidential campaign."
Kim Hyun-chong, the deputy national security adviser, and other presidential officials have visited Washington in recent weeks. Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha will also push for the summit when she meets U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the Munich Security Conference on Friday through Sunday.
Cheong Wa Dae hopes that the two leaders could meet to lock in agreements on cost-sharing for the upkeep of the U.S. Forces Korea and the revision of missile guidelines for South Korea.
The cost-sharing negotiations are in limbo due to exorbitant U.S. demands for an increase in Seoul's share, and the guideline revision is in the final stage.
But the main reason seems to be that Moon wants to boost his approval ratings ahead of the general elections. "Summit diplomacy tends to drive up the approval ratings of both the president and the ruling party," a diplomatic source said. "It seems that Cheong Wa Dae is now seeking another summit with Trump because Chinese President Xi Jinping is not going to visit South Korea any time soon due to the coronavirus outbreak.'
Perhaps Moon also wants to refocus Trump's attention on North Korea after Trump effectively disbanded his North Korea negotiating team.
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