Pyongyang unveils satellite photos of Thaad in S.Korea

Bruno Cirelli
Mag 20, 2017

The Trump administration has also been dismayed by Moon's questioning of deployment of a US missile defense system in South Korea and expects some friction in ties, although USA officials say the new president may moderate his stances in office and the effect on the alliance will be limited.

He did not elaborate, but Yoon also said the two leaders agreed that all sides must work together to ease tensions over North Korea's weapons program.

Many see Moon's manner as a refreshing break from his disgraced, jailed predecessor Park Geun-hye, whom critics saw as aloof and autocratic.

Moon's softer stance on North Korea could create friction with Washington, which has swung from threats of military action to hints of dialogue as it seeks to formulate a policy under President Donald Trump.

He also said he was prepared to go to Pyongyang "if the conditions are right".

US officials have expressed concern that Moon's advocacy of engagement with North Korea could undercut USA efforts to increase pressure through further isolation and sanctions.

Moon told Xi that it would be easier to settle the missile-defense issue if North Korea wasn't engaging in provocations, the statement said.

South Korea's new liberal President Moon Jae-in was sworn in on Wednesday and vowed to tackle immediately the hard tasks of addressing North Korea's advancing nuclear ambitions and soothing tensions with the United States and China.

Talking to reporters, Suh endorsed Moon's call for a summit meeting with North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un, although saying it would be hard for such a meeting to take place soon, considering the tension over the North's nuclear program.

North Korea is believed to be preparing for a sixth nuclear test and is working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the United States, presenting Trump with perhaps his most pressing security issue.

Trump told Reuters in an interview last month major conflict with North Korea was possible though he would prefer a diplomatic outcome.

"Threats from North Korea's nuclear and missile development have entered a new stage", Japan's Abe told Moon in their telephone call, according to Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda.

Japanese officials have described the call as "positive and meaningful", with the two agreeing to cooperate closely to deal with North Korea.

China has already taken commercial retaliation against South Korean business interests on its soil, but will be hoping Moon follows through on his campaign pledge to review the missile system's deployment if elected.

In a televised inaugural speech, he said he will be on the move for peace on the Korean Peninsula, vowing to visit Pyongyang, under right conditions. South Korea's relations with Japan are strained by the Japanese military's sexual exploitation of South Korean women during World War II, and relations with China have been irritated over the THAAD anti-missile system deployment. The country hosts some 28,000 USA forces. Moon accepted Trump's invitation to visit at an "early date".

Beijing also has its own issues with Seoul.

China has also denied it is doing anything to retaliate against South Korean businesses.

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