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Moon to meet Trump, tour 3 Asian countries

Oct 13,2017
President Moon Jae-in will tour three Southeast Asian countries next month, after a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Korea, the Blue House said Thursday.

The presidential trip is scheduled from Nov. 8 to 15, according to the Blue House. The first destination is expected to be Jakarta, Indonesia. The two countries will soon make an official announcement about Moon’s trip and the bilateral summit. Shortly after he took office, Moon had a telephone conversation with Indonesian President Joko Widodo on May 25, during which the two leaders discussed visiting each other’s country.

Moon will visit Vietnam on Nov. 10 and 11 to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. On Nov. 13 and 14, he will attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Plus Three (Korea, China and Japan) summit and the East Asia Summit in the Philippines. The Southeast Asian tour will be Moon’s first presidential trip to the region.

The Moon administration has promoted the goal of diversifying Korea’s diplomacy with partners other than the United States, China, Japan and Russia.

Moon has told his Indonesian counterpart in May that he wants to strengthen and upgrade Korea’s relations with Asean countries, making the region a partner as important as the four superpowers.

Ahead of the Southeast Asian tour, Moon will meet with Trump in Seoul. Trump will visit Japan, Korea and China early next month, and the U.S. president is expected to visit Seoul shortly before Moon’s departure to Indonesia.

It will be the third bilateral summit between Moon and Trump. They met for the first time in June in Washington and last month in New York.

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs will be the top agenda of their summit. They are also expected to discuss the fate of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, as Seoul and Washington are about to begin a negotiation to revise the contents.

Meanwhile, Japanese media reported Thursday that Trump is planning to meet with the parents of Megumi Yokota, kidnapped by North Korea in 1977, during his visit to Japan.

According to The Yomiuri Shimbun, Washington and Tokyo are discussing a schedule for Trump’s meeting with the parents of Yokota, who was 13-years-old at the time of abduction. Trump is expected to visit Japan around Nov. 4 or 5. The newspaper said the meeting is intended to exert pressure on North Korea on the human rights issue.

In 2002, the North Korean government admitted to kidnapping Yokota and other Japanese citizens but claimed that she has died in captivity. Her remains were returned to Japan but a subsequent DNA test showed that they could not have been hers.

During his speech at the UN General Assembly in September, Trump mentioned the abduction of Yokota. He met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and agreed that the two countries will work together to resolve the abduction issue and to seek the release of Americans detained in the North.

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

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