Donald Trump offers olive branch to North Korea with talks invitation

US President Donald Trump has signalled a willingness to negotiate with North Korea to end its nuclear weapons programme, urging Pyongyang to "come to the table" and "make a deal".

In a notable shift from his aggressive rhetoric toward North Korea, Mr Trump took a more optimistic tone in South Korea on Tuesday, suggesting "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.

U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in toast at the start of a dinner at the Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, today.

"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," Mr Trump said during a news conference alongside South Korean president Moon Jae-in.

"I do see certain movement."

Mr Trump said he has seen "a lot of progress" in dealing with North Korea though he stopped short of saying whether he wanted direct diplomatic talks.

Mr 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 military options.

During his first day in South Korea, Mr Trump lowered the temperature on his previously incendiary language about North Korea.

There were no threats of unleashing "fire and fury" on the North, as Mr Trump previously warned, nor did the president revive his derisive nickname for North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un, Little Rocket Man.

But he did decree that the dictator is "threatening millions and millions of lives, so needlessly" and 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 programme.

Mr Moon, who has been eager to solidify a friendship with Mr Trump, said he hoped the president'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 peaceful manner" that would "bring permanent peace" to the peninsula.

"I know that you have put this issue at the top of your security agenda," said Mr Moon.

"So I hope that your visit to Korea and to the Asia Pacific region will serve as an opportunity to relieve some of the anxiety that the Korean people have due to North Korea's provocations and also serve as a turning point in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue."

When presidents travel overseas, every word is parsed and every action studied.

He began with a visit to Camp Humphreys, a joint US-Korean military base, but even as he walked among the weapons of war, he struck a hopeful note, saying: "it always works out".

Much like he did in his visit to Japan, Mr Trump indicated he would place the interlocking issues of security and trade at the heart of his visit.

He praised South Korea for significant purchases of American military equipment and urged the two nations to have more equitable trade relationship.

Mr Moon said the two agreed on lifting the warhead payload limits on South Korean ballistic missiles and cooperating on strengthening South Korea's defence capabilities through the acquisition or development of advanced weapons systems.

AP


 

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