President Moon Jae-in and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump offered no new proposals for dealing with North Korea in their meeting at Cheong Wa Dae on Tuesday but reaffirmed their strong alliance.
Moon reassured a reporter that he is not trying to pivot away from America and toward China. "So on bringing balance in our diplomatic approaches, this is not about our stance vis-à-vis the United States and China," he said.
"We would like to promote peace, stability and prosperity of the Northeast Asian region. So we would like to expand our diplomatic efforts in this regard."
Trump reassured Moon that there will be a role for Seoul in any solution to the North Korean nuclear standoff, saying "there will be no skipping" South Korea.
"South Korea... is very important to me and there will be no skipping South Korea. I can tell you that right now," he said. "Plus I've developed great friendships not only with the president, but with others and we're not going to let them down and they're not going to let us down cause we're doing a lot for them, to be honest," he said.
The two leaders also signed off on new missile guidelines that lift limits on the payload of South Korea's missiles. Under guidelines revised in 2012, South Korea was limited to missiles with a maximum range of 800 km and a payload of 500 kg. But now the U.S. has agreed that the South can develop missiles with unlimited payload capacity as long as the range does not exceed 800 km.
"We agreed to start talks on South Korea's acquisition and development of state-of-the-art military surveillance assets," Moon said.
Earlier, the two leaders visited Camp Humphreys, the sprawling new U.S. Forces Korea headquarter in Pyeongtaek south of Seoul. Trump arrived aboard his Marine One helicopter, and Moon was there to greet him. Moon's visit to Pyeongtaek was not announced in advance.
The two leaders entered a mess hall at the camp as soldiers from both countries cheered. Moon returned to Cheong Wa Dae after lunch and Trump stayed to be briefed by U.S. commanders on the security situation.
Trump said he hopes to reach a "fair and reciprocal" agreement in revising the South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement that went into effect in 2012. "I feel confident that we will be able to reach a free, fair and reciprocal trade deal as we renegotiate our current five-year-old trade document," Trump said, reiterating his claim that the pact is not favorable for American businesses.
At the joint press conference, Trump also touted the superiority of American military hardware and technology. "South Korea will be ordering billions of dollars of that equipment, which, frankly, for them makes a lot of sense and for us it means jobs, it means reducing our trade deficit with South Korea."
Meanwhile, anti-American protesters demonstrated in Seoul and Pyeongtaek, while conservative groups also held rallies supporting Trump's visit.
Around 22,000 police were mobilized in Seoul, but no clashes were reported.
President Moon Jae-in (right) shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump at a press conference at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Tuesday. /Yonhap
President Moon Jae-in (right) watches U.S. President Donald Trump as he delivers a speech to South Korean and U.S. soldiers at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province on Tuesday. /Yonhap
Police officers confront demonstrators in Gwanghwamun, Seoul on Wednesday. /Newsis