May 17, 2017 5:10 am JST

North Korea to be focus of planned US-South Korea summit

Top policy advisers agree to consider range of options on Pyongyang

HIROSHI MINEGISHI, Nikkei staff writer

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump © AP

SEOUL -- The leaders of the U.S. and South Korea are expected to discuss potential responses to North Korea's growing nuclear weapons capabilities at a summit in Washington at the end of June.

The countries reached a tentative agreement on the summit in a Tuesday meeting between Matt Pottinger, the director for East Asia at the U.S. National Security Council, and South Korean presidential adviser Chung Eui-yong, the South Korean government announced. The specific date and agenda will be settled through diplomatic channels.

This would be the first meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and new South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The summit will present an opportunity for the leaders to deepen their ties and friendship, the South Korean president's office said.

Trump and Moon will likely discuss their close cooperation over North Korea. It remains to be seen if Trump, who is willing to take military action against Pyongyang if necessary, and Moon, who wants to engage in dialogue with the rogue state, will be able to reconcile their differences.

There are other reasons for concern as well. Moon raised doubts about the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile shield in South Korea during his campaign, while Trump is considering the renegotiation of a bilateral free trade deal.

In light of advancements in North Korea's nuclear and missile technologies, Pottinger and Chung on Tuesday reaffirmed America's commitment to defending South Korea. They also agreed to strengthen efforts to curb Pyongyang's provocations.

Regarding the summit, the two policy advisers reasserted that the ultimate goal of their countries is to denuclearize North Korea, and that all options, including sanctions and dialogue, should be considered. They also concurred that negotiations with the North were possible under the right circumstances.

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