0826 GMT January 21, 2018
Trump, in his first day on the Korean Peninsula, again pushed Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons program, but sidelined apocalyptic threats for an optimistic note, saying confidently, if vaguely, that “ultimately, it’ll all work out.” And while he said the United States would use military force if needed, he expressed his strongest inclination yet to deal with rising tensions with Pyongyang through diplomacy, AP reported.
“It makes sense for North Korea to come to the table and make a deal that is good for the people of North Korea and for the world,” Trump said during a news conference alongside South Korean President Moon Jae-in. “I do see certain movement.”
Trump said he had seen “a lot of progress” in dealing with North Korea, though he stopped short of saying whether he wanted direct diplomatic talks.
Trump also underlined the United States’ military options, noting that three aircraft carrier groups and a nuclear submarine had been deployed to the region. But he said “we hope to God we never have to use” the arsenal.
During his first day in South Korea, Trump at least temporarily lowered the temperature on his previously incendiary language about the North. There were no threats of unleashing “fire and fury” on North Korea, as Trump previously warned.
But he highlighted one of the central missions of his first lengthy Asia trip: To enlist many nations in the region, including China and Russia, to cut off Pyongyang’s economic lifeblood and pressure it into giving up its nuclear program.
Moon, who has been eager to solidify a friendship with Trump, said he hoped Trump’s visit would be a moment of inflection in the stand-off with North Korea and said the two leaders had “agreed to resolve the North Korea nuclear issue in a peaceful manner” that would “bring permanent peace” to the peninsula.
Demonstrations in Seoul
Meanwhile, hundreds of South Koreans took to the streets of Seoul on Tuesday for two separate demonstrations, one to show support for Trump and the other to voice disapproval of Trump.
Surrounded by thousands of police officers and a tight perimeter created by buses, hundreds of anti-Trump protesters rallied at a boulevard near the US Embassy, holding banners that read: “No Trump” and “No War.”
The demonstrators accused Trump of raising tensions with North Korea and pressuring Seoul to buy more US weapons. They also criticized him for pressing Seoul to re-do a bilateral free trade deal between the countries so that it’s more favorable to the United States.
Across the street, hundreds of Trump supporters waved the US and South Korean flags. They chanted “USA!” when Trump’s motorcade passed by the two protest groups for a meeting with Moon.