+ A

President says Korea-U.S. relationship is one of equality

Sept 20,2017
South Korea’s relationship with the United States has evolved closer to a state of equality, President Moon Jae-in said Monday, dismissing concerns about a fraying bilateral alliance of 64 years.

“In the past, the United States was leading and we were following,” Moon said in a meeting with Korean residents in New York, a dinner event hosted as a part of his United Nations General Assembly trip. “Now, we are working together and we play our role, such as our efforts to pass a UN Security Council resolution. Korea-U.S. relations used to be one-sided, but we are developing it into a more equal and healthier tie by doing our bit.”

After a participant expressed concern over signs of disharmony between Seoul and Washington regarding their approaches to North Korea and other pending issues, Moon said, “The Korea-U.S. alliance and bilateral cooperation toward the North’s nuclear and missile provocations are truly steadfast.”

He added, “Of course, the positions of the two countries cannot be perfectly identical. For example, the U.S. Forces Korea serves the mutual interests of Korea and the United States, but the two countries can have debates on whether we should pay more for the cost of their stationing or whether we are paying enough.”

Moon also said it is not a surprise for Seoul and Washington to wrestle over the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, though the two countries have no disagreement as to whether the pact is necessary to expand bilateral trade.

“Such differences are reasonable and natural and helpful to develop healthier bilateral ties,” Moon said.

Earlier in the day, Moon met with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres as the first part of his New York trip. During the meeting, Moon asked for the UN leader’s active help in forming a peaceful and comprehensive solution to the security crisis on the Korean Peninsula, Presidential Spokesman Park Soo-hyun said.

Moon also said his government will actively embrace Guterres’s efforts to arrange dialogues with North Korea to resolve the crisis. Last month, Guterres said he had told Russia, Japan, the United States, China and North and South Korea that he was available to help broker talks, according to international media.

“My good offices are always available - and I conveyed this message yesterday to the representatives of the six-party talks,” Guterres told reporters on Aug. 17. “The solution to this crisis must be political. The potential consequences of military action are too horrific to even contemplate.”

According to Park, the UN leader stressed to Moon again on Monday that the crisis should be resolved through diplomacy, not military options. Park said Moon did not specifically ask for Guterres to arrange inter-Korean dialogues. Neither did any discussion take place regarding the UN leader’s visit to the North. Park also said the two leaders did not discuss Moon’s latest offer for $8 million in humanitarian aid to the North.

The call for dialogue and diplomacy came as the White House said U.S. President Donald Trump will use his first address at the UN General Assembly to call for international action to confront the North and Iran. Trump is scheduled to give the speech on Tuesday to issue harsh warnings to the two nations.

“Obviously one of the chief regimes that will be singled out in this regard is the regime of North Korea and all of its destabilizing hostile and dangerous behavior,” the Guardian quoted the official as saying, “as well as of course the regime of Iran.”

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]