ROK to Purchase Strategic Arms from US
(Source: The Korea Times; issued Nov 08, 2017)
By Kim Rahn
SEOUL --- South Korea will begin talks with the United States to purchase the latter's strategic arms, such as surveillance assets and nuclear-powered submarine, Cheong Wa Dae said after a summit between the leaders of the two nations, Tuesday.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed on the South's purchase of cutting-edge military weapons to improve its own military capabilities during their summit.

These were their third bilateral talks and Trump's first visit to South Korea. It was also the first state visit of a U.S. president here in 25 years.

"We agreed to start talks on South Korea's acquisition and development of state-of-the-art military surveillance assets," Moon said in a joint press conference after the summit. "This is necessary to improve South Korea's own defense capabilities and the joint defense capabilities of the two nations."

Saying his country has great military equipment, Trump also said, "South Korea will be ordering billions of dollars of that equipment, which, frankly, for them makes a lot of sense and for us it means jobs, it means reducing our trade deficit with South Korea."

Regarding the agreement, a Cheong Wa Dae senior officials said the state-of-the-art strategic assets Seoul plans to adopt include a nuclear-powered submarine and surveillance assets, but exactly which weapons to acquire and how many of them to buy has not yet been decided.

"We may purchase the weapons or co-develop them with the U.S.," the official said, adding there were various things to review including technical aspects and it will take some time. "The two leaders agreed on the issues in principle during their previous summits as well, but there are things to solve when considering international norms and the characteristics of U.S. nuclear-powered submarines," he said.

As another way of improving Seoul's own military deterrence, the two leaders agreed to lift the limit on the maximum weight of warheads to be mounted on South Korean ballistic missiles.

They also agreed that the two countries would share reasonable levels of the defense costs of U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, but did not discuss this in detail, the official said.

Regarding trade and economic cooperation between the two countries, Moon and Trump agreed to speed up the ongoing renegotiation of the South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement (KORUS FTA), which Trump has claimed is disadvantageous to his country.

"I feel confident that we will be able to reach a free, fair and reciprocal trade deal as we renegotiate our current five-year-old trade document," Trump said.

But the U.S. president did not mention anything about scrapping the deal as he had earlier pledged during his election campaign, the Cheong Wa Dae official said.

The two heads of states also reaffirmed the stance to resolve the North Korea's nuclear and missile programs issue in a peaceful manner but also sternly deal with any of its provocations.

"We again strongly urge the North to stop nuclear and missile provocations and come to negotiations for denuclearization," Moon said. "We reconfirmed the strategy to apply maximum pressure and sanctions until North Korea gives up its nuclear program and agrees to serious talks."

Trump called North Korea "a worldwide threat that requires worldwide action."

"We will together confront North Korea's actions and prevent the North Korean dictator from threatening millions of innocent lives," Trump said. "We call on every responsible nation, including China and Russia, to demand that the North Korean regime end its nuclear weapons and its missile programs, and to live in peace."

Moon said they agreed to expand and strengthen rotational deployment of U.S. strategic assets to the Korean Peninsula and nearby regions.

Trump also dismissed concerns that South Korea is being sidelined in talks to resolve the North Korea issue. "South Korea is very important to me and there will be no skipping South Korea. I can tell you that right now. Plus I've developed a great friendship not only with the President but with others, and we're not going to let them down and they're not going to let us down."


Seoul, Washington Seek ‘Unprecedented’ Cooperation to Boost Military Capacity
(Source: The Korea Herald; issued Nov 07, 2017)
South Korea and the US will cooperate on “an unprecedented level” to strengthen Seoul’s military capabilities, President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday.

Speaking after a summit meeting with US President Donald Trump in Seoul, Moon said that the two countries will immediately begin talks regarding Seoul’s plans to purchase or develop cutting-edge military assets.

“We agreed to resolve North Korean nuclear issue peacefully, and to establish permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula,” Moon said at a joint press conference at Cheong Wa Dae, the presidential office.

Saying that he and Trump renewed the resolve to work together on the issue, Moon said that the two countries agreed to strengthen the allied defense posture. Moon said that the two countries will “cooperate on an unprecedented level” in boosting South Korea’s defense capabilities, and to immediately begin talks regarding acquisition and development of new military equipment by South Korea. Moon also revealed that the agreement to lift restrictions on South Korea’s ballistic missile payload was finalized.

According to Cheong Wa Dae, the two sides adopted new missile guidelines that impose no limits on Korea’s missiles during the day’s summit talks.

A high-level Korean official later revealed that the weapons acquisition and development talks concern nuclear-powered submarines and surveillance assets.

“Nuclear-powered submarines and cutting-edge surveillance assets are included (in the talks). An agreement was reached in principle, but there are many elements that must be reviewed and discussed,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Overall, Trump’s remarks concerning North Korea echoed those of Moon, and he urged the international community to work together in pressuring the regime.

“North Korea‘s sixth test of a nuclear device and its missile launches are a threat not only to the people of South Korea but to the people all across our globe,” Trump said.

“North Korea is a worldwide threat that requires worldwide action. We call on every responsible nation, including China and Russia, to demand that the North Korean regime end its nuclear weapons and its missile programs, and live in peace.”

Trump, however, warned that the US would bring its military into the equation if necessary.

“As we work together to resolve this problem using all of available tools short of military action, the US stands to prepare to defend itself and allies using full range of unmatched military capabilities if need be,” Trump said.

In response to a question on whether he viewed the situation to be progressing, Trump said that “it makes sense” for North Korea to denuclearize and that such a decision would be “for humanity all over the world.”

He said there is “certain movement,” but declined to elaborate on the possibility of engaging North Korea directly.

On the issue of bilateral trade, Trump reiterated his assessment of the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement, saying the two sides are looking to improve economic relations.

“I would like to thank President Moon for instructing his trade negotiators to work closely with us to quickly pursue a much better deal -- a deal that, frankly, has been quite unsuccessful and not very good for the United States,” Trump said.

Although Seoul had maintained that the trade pact was reciprocal in nature, the two sides are now working on modifying the deal.

Against much speculation from local pundits, the issue of South Korea’s share of US military costs incurred here was not given significant mention.

Ahead of Trump’s visit, local media and experts had raised the possibility that Trump could use his state visit to raise the concern. Korea’s presidential office also appeared wary of the possibility, with officials highlighting the significance of Camp Humphreys, the first stop on Trump’s South Korean itinerary, on a number of occasions.

Located in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, the installation is the largest overseas base operated by the US. Building the base has incurred costs of about $10 billion, over 90 percent of which has been shouldered by Seoul.

Trump is to address the National Assembly on Wednesday, his second and last day in Seoul, and depart for China in the early afternoon, his third stop in a five-nation tour of Asia.


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