President Park Geun-hye and US President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday reconfirmed the partnership between the two nations, jointly recognizing the need to maintain a powerful defense system on the peninsula against North Korea.
In a telephone conversation which lasted for some 10 minutes, Trump repeatedly underlined that Washington is with Seoul “all the way,” according to Cheong Wa Dae.
“The Korea-US alliance has built up trust over the past 60 years and laid the foundation of peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region,” Park told Trump, after expressing congratulations over his election victory.
“I hope that (we) continue to reinforce and develop our alliance in various sectors for the sake of mutual interest.”
To this, the incoming US president said he “agrees 100 percent,” acknowledging the need for continuous bilateral ties.
“We are with you all the way and we will not waver,” Trump said.
Park and Trump also expressed hope for a bilateral summit in the near future, possibly in the form of Trump’s state visit to Seoul.
Their first official conversation was in an amicable tone, according to Blue House spokesperson Jung Youn-kuk.
The two counterparts largely placed focus on maintaining the current stance against North Korea.
Describing the reclusive regime’s nuclear armament as “one of the greatest threats,” Park reiterated calls for powerful restrictive measures against the North.
“Considering the past cases of the North making provocations upon the transition of the US administration, we should communicate beforehand so as to respond sternly, should such provocations take place,” she said.
Trump’s consenting reply was that Washington would work with Seoul in responding to the instability of North Korea.
“We are going to be with you 100 percent,” he said. “We will all be safe together.”
Park’s emphasis on North Korea was in line with her earlier remarks after she received comprehensive reports from the National Security Council following Trump’s announcement of being elected 45th president of the United States.
“Considering the ever-increasing nuclear and missile threats from North Korea, I demand that (the government) build a cooperative relationship with the incoming US administration from its transition stage,” she said.
The phone conversation came amid Seoul’s rising level of concern the rather unexpected win of the conservative businessman-turned-politician may lead to political uncertainty in Korea’s national security and economy.
It also answered a growing level of diplomatic anxiety here as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had already talked to Trump via phone earlier and agreed to meet with the president-elect in the US next week. Park’s talk with Trump started at 9:55 a.m., about 1 1/2 hours after Japan’s state chief was reported to have had his call.
The fact that the direct call took place less than a day after Trump won his ticket to the White House reflected the significance both nations place on their bilateral partnership, observers noted.
In 2008 when Barack Obama was elected US president, his phone call with then-President Lee Myung-bak took place two days after election results came in. Following Obama’s re-election in 2012, the corresponding diplomatic call came a week after the election.
By Bae Hyun-jung (email@example.com)