Korea-U.S. Spend 7 Hours Negotiating Joint Statement

  • By Jeong Woo-sang

    July 03, 2017 10:58

    It took seven hours for a joint statement to be released after Friday's summit between President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump after the two ended their talks.

    Normally, such statements are passed out to the news media before the summit even starts, because key areas are agreed upon by both sides prior to the meeting.

    Cheong Wa Dae told reporters that the statement would be distributed first before a joint press conference of the two leaders, but it was delayed almost half a day, which Cheong Wa Dae said was due to "administrative procedures."

    President Moon Jae-in (right) and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump walk away after a joint press conference at the White House in Washington. /EPA-Yonhap

    There were apparently two reasons for the delay. One was a tug-of-war over the wording. After the White House dinner a day before the summit, Trump tweeted that "a new trade pact was necessary" between Korea and the U.S. The U.S. apparently wanted to include a clear reference to renegotiating the bilateral free trade agreement, which went into effect in 2012.

    Both Moon and his staff rebutted Trump's concerns with their own figures and insisted that it would be problematic to include specific references to a renegotiation. As a result, the statement merely said the two sides will be "further committed to foster a truly fair and level playing field, including working together to reduce the global overcapacity of such basic materials as steel, as well as non-tariff barriers to trade."

    Another reason may have been an intentional delay by White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who refused to sign the statement for release. A Foreign Ministry source mentioned Trump's leadership style, which has been somewhat haphazard. 

    The U.S. has issued joint statements with six countries since Trump's inauguration. A joint statement with Vietnam was released the evening after the summit, and a joint statement with Saudi Arabia took three days. However, joint statements with Japan and India were released immediately after the summits.

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