U.S. President Donald Trump called for a determined response to North Korea after talks with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in on Friday where he stressed the importance of their alliance but took aim at Seoul over trade and sharing the cost of defense.
Trump said the United States was renegotiating what he characterized as a “rough” trade deal with South Korea agreed to five years ago by his predecessor, Barack Obama, and reiterated that an era of “strategic patience” over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs had ended, reports Reuters.
“Together we are facing the threat of the reckless and brutal regime in North Korea,” Trump said as he stood alongside Moon in the White House Rose Garden. “The nuclear and ballistic missile programs of that regime require a determined response.”
Despite the tough rhetoric, it remains unclear how Trump will find a way forward on North Korea, which is working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has warned the consequences of any military solution would be “tragic on an unbelievable scale.” Trump had pinned his hopes on persuading China, North Korea’s neighbor and main trading partner, to do more to rein in Pyongyang, although he has lately grown frustrated that Beijing has not taken stronger action.
Trump called on regional powers to implement sanctions and demand North Korea “choose a better path and do it quickly.”
Moon, who warned of a “stern response” to any provocations, urged Pyongyang to return promptly to talks.
“Our two leaders will employ both sanctions and dialogue in a phased and comprehensive approach,” Moon said of South Korea and the United States.
Trump and Moon have said they are open to renewed dialogue with North Korea but only under circumstances that would lead to Pyongyang giving up its weapons programs.