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Moon welcomes Trump at US base

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday welcomed the visiting US President Donald Trump at a main garrison for US troops stationed here, a surprise move intended to showcase the robust alliance amid North Korea’s persistent nuclear and missile threats.

The leaders met at Camp Humphreys, a newly expanded US Army base located in the rural area of Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, about 70 kilometer south of Seoul. The military compound is the first stop on Trump’s two-day visit to South Korea.

It was Moon’s first trip to the newly expanded base since the US 8th Army headquarters were relocated there in July. The 8th Army had been based in downtown Seoul, at Yongsan Garrison, since the Korean War ended in an armistice in 1953. 

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump at Camp Humphreys (AP-Yonhap)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump at Camp Humphreys (AP-Yonhap)

“You are probably just as impressed as I am. This is very impressive, people. Beyond facilities, people,” said Trump while having lunch with Moon and service members at a dining facility inside Camp Humphreys.

“I had the choice of having a beautiful, very fancy lunch and I said, ‘no I want to eat with the troops.’ And we ate with the troops, it was good eating, it was good eating.”

Describing those serving at Camp Humphrey as the “strong bedrock and bright future” of the decadeslong alliance, Moon expressed gratitude to the US’ role in maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula following the Korean War, Cheong Wa Dae said.

Trump then received a military briefing on North Korea at the 8th Army’s headquarters. Moon did not attend the meeting, returning to Cheong Wa Dae. He was instead briefed about the status of Camp Humphreys by Gen. Thomas S. Vandal.

“Camp Humphreys is a crown jewel and symbol of permanent contribution to the Korea-US alliance,” the general was quoted as saying by Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Park Soo-hyun. Park added that the general delivered gratitude to Korea for contributing over 90 percent of construction costs.

It was reportedly Moon’s idea for Trump to visit Camp Humphreys, which has been transformed from a remote airfield in Pyeongtaek. It was part of efforts to relocate the bulk of the US forces stationed here from border areas with North Korea to southern regional hubs.

Spread across 14.7 million square meters, Camp Humphreys is the US’ largest overseas military base, housing some 500 buildings and amenities such as schools, stores, banks and playgrounds.

By Yeo Jun-suk (