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Moon Jae-in’s Visit to United States in September 2019

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From 22 to 26 September 2019, President of the Republic of Korea was in New York. His visit included speaking at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly and participating in yet another U.S.-South Korea Summit (9th in two and a half years).

Initially, ROK’s Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon was supposed to attend the U.N. General Assembly. But then Moon Jae-in decided to go to New York himself. In the opinion of South Korea’s media outlets, he was planning on offering help in re-establishing dialogue between the DPRK and the United States, as due to disagreements between Washington and Pyongyang, Moon Jae-in’s role as mediator, capable of listening to each side and convincing whichever party to make certain concessions, had become more important.

In reality, Seoul and Washington had more crucial issues to discuss, such as their disagreements. For example, the United States has expressed its dissatisfaction on more than one occasion with ROK’s decision to withdraw from the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Japan. In addition, South Korea needed to resolve yet another complex issue: budget allocation on U.S. military troops stationed in the Republic of Korea.

South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha stated that the parties would hold negotiations to agree on a mutually acceptable definition of denuclearization, and that Moon Jae-in would ask Donald Trump to consider a step-by-step approach to it.

On 23 September, Moon Jae-in and Donald Trump met for 65 minutes. The duration of their talks is important if we consider how formal the meeting was, and, therefore, how much time was allotted to interpret what was said. In comparison, for instance, negotiations between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump lasted a couple of hours.

The two sides discussed the situation on the Korean Peninsula and how the alliance between the ROK and the United States would evolve in the future. Moon Jae-in expressed hope that working negotiations between the DPRK and the USA to prepare for their third bilateral summit would start in the near future. However, having emphasized his good relationship with Kim Jong-un, Donald Trump suggested continuing to monitor the unfolding situation, and noted that only time would tell whether........

© New Eastern Outlook