President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday that President Trump had agreed to seek South Korea’s consent before taking any action on North Korea, including a military strike, assuring his public that there would be no war on the Korean Peninsula.
“No matter what options the United States and President Trump want to use, they have promised to have full consultation with South Korea and get our consent in advance,” Mr. Moon said in a nationally televised news conference. “This is a firm agreement between South Korea and the United States. The people can be assured that there will be no war.”
Mr. Moon said the United States and Mr. Trump agreed with South Korea that the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs should be resolved through sanctions and pressure, and eventually through dialogue.
Mr. Trump’s recent rhetoric on North Korea, including a promise to bring “fire and fury” to the country if it continues to threaten the United States with nuclear missiles, has alarmed many people in South Korea. On Tuesday, Mr. Moon said that unilateral American military action against the North would be intolerable.
South Korean officials fear that a military strike on the North could easily escalate into a broader conflict on the Korean Peninsula, which has technically been in a state of war for decades, as fighting in the Korean War ended in 1953 with a truce, not a peace treaty. Mr. Moon said a return to combat would lay waste to the prosperous economy that South Koreans have built since then.
“Never again can we lose all we have in another war,” he said. “I will prevent war, whatever it takes to do so.”
He said he thought that Mr. Trump’s combative recent statements were meant to “demonstrate his resolve and put pressure on North Korea.”
“I don’t think he necessarily made them with an intent to realize a military action,” Mr. Moon said. “On this, there is sufficient communication and agreement being made between South Korea and the United States.”
Mr. Moon, an advocate of dialogue with North Korea, said there was “no fundamental difference” between Washington and Seoul about using strong pressure and sanctions, like the kind approved by the United Nations Security Council this month, to bring Pyongyang to the negotiating table.
Mr. Moon said he was willing to dispatch a special envoy to Pyongyang to discuss improving ties between the Koreas, but not before North Korea stops carrying out provocations like missile tests.
Source: New York Times