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U.S. President Donald Trump to land in Seoul Tuesday for a two-day visit.
Economy

South Koreans split over Trump visit

Seoul plans state visit while protesters prepare to demonstrate

SEOUL -- When U.S. President Donald Trump lands in Seoul for a two-day visit on Tuesday, he will be given the VIP treatment by his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in but he can expect a much frostier reception from civic groups mobilizing demonstrations against him under a "No Trump, No War" slogan.

The South Korean government said that Moon would host an official welcoming ceremony for Trump and his wife at 2:30 pm Tuesday at the Blue House with the highest level of protocol. Trump will visit the presidential office after touring Camp Humphreys, a U.S. army garrison, in the western port city of Pyeongtaek where he will be briefed on the military situation on the peninsula.

"Our government welcomes President Trump warmly as a state visitor, aiming to make this occasion a critical meeting to improve South Korea-U.S. relations to a 'great alliance' beyond the currrent 'comprehensive alliance,'" said Park Soo-hyun, Moon's spokesman in a press briefing on Sunday. "It is our long-standing tradition to welcome visitors. Please welcome President Trump warmly with all your hearts."

But such a request has received a cold shoulder from civic and labor groups which are planning large-scale demonstrations against the U.S. president at downtown Seoul and other places Trump is due to visit. An association of civic groups called the "No Trump Action" said that it would host a candlelight demonstration at the Gwanghwamun Square on Tuesday evening.

"Trump has no interest in peace, not taking care of people's lives on the Korean Peninsula. He threatens war whenever he opens his mouth. We find no reason for him to come to South Korea," said the group in a statement.

Trump will be the first U.S. president to get the formal state visit treatment in the country in 25 years since George H.W. Bush came in 1992. The official welcoming event will be followed by a summit between the two presidents, a meeting with key ministers, a walk and a joint press conference.

In the evening, Moon will host a dinner for the U.S. first couple and those who accompanied them including White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster and State Secretary Rex Tillerson. 

On Wednesday, Trump will make a speech at the National Assembly. He is expected to stress sanctions on North Korea, which has developed nuclear arms that the regime claims can target the U.S. mainland. Trump will be closely watched for what he says about North Korea. He had threatened military action against the Kim Jong Un regime on several occasions. 

Trump also may raise the issue of free trade between the two countries which are in talks to change the terms of an existing deal. "We are trying to defend us from Trump's sharp remarks against the agreement," said an official of the South Korean trade ministry, asking not to be named. "We are assuring the U.S. that we are doing our jobs to push for the process." 

Trump is in Asia for a 12-day trip ending on Nov. 14. His next stop after South Korea is China, followed by Vietnam and the Philippines. His first stop was Japan.

Do you live in Asia? How do you feel about Trump visiting the region?

  • Do you believe Trump can make Asia a more secure place?
  • Who will be the strongest political force in East Asia in 2030? The U.S.? China? Other?
  • Is the U.S. an indispensable economic partner or should Asia become more self-sufficient?

Email us your answers to: nar01@nex.nikkei.co.jp

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