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Politics

Moon-Trump summit: How to avoid a train wreck

Threatened by North Korea, Seoul and Washington on divergent paths

| North Korea
South Korean President Moon Jae-in attends a meeting of the National Security Council at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on June 8.   © Yonhap/AP

U.S. President Donald Trump and Moon Jae-in, South Korea's new progressive president, will meet later this month. Summits tend to be neatly scripted and choreographed, and by definition, successful. But this one may be different. The combination of Trump's "America first" impulses and Moon's leftish peacenik ideas run the risk of costly discord. To a considerable degree, the Trump and Moon administrations appear to be moving in opposite directions in regard to North Korea, trade and the U.S.-South Korea alliance.

Even before South Korea's presidential election in May, Trump injected new uncertainties into the bilateral relationship. He suggested ripping up the arrangement the U.S. made with South Korea to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile system. The agreement was that South Korea would supply the land and infrastructure and the U.S. would pay the deployment and operational costs.

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