Trump threatens to hold S. Korean trade deal hostage

‘Because it’s a very strong card, and I want to make sure everyone is treated fairly,’ president says
WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump threatened Thursday to “hold up” a recently struck free trade pact with South Korea until after a deal is struck with North Korea.
Trump said he may take the action because of the leverage the deal provides over Seoul.
“I may hold it up ’til after a deal is made with North Korea,” he told supporters in Ohio. “Do you know why? Because it’s a very strong card, and I want to make sure everyone is treated fairly and we’re moving along very nicely with North Korea. We’ll see what happens. Certainly, the rhetoric has calmed down just a little bit. Wouldn’t you say?
“Maybe it will be good, maybe it won’t. And if it’s no good, we’re walking, and if it’s good, we will embrace it,” he added.
Washington and Seoul agreed earlier this week to revise their trade agreement, with the most significant changes affecting the automobile trade and South Korean steel exports to the U.S.
It is unclear how, if at all, Trump’s threat would advantage the U.S. in talks with the North, which are focused on ending Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Just moments before threatening to hold the revised deal hostage, Trump called it “wonderful”.
Earlier Thursday, the South and North announced they will hold the third-ever meeting of their leaders on April 27 ahead of a planned meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The meeting between the North’s Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will take place at the so-called Peace House on the southern side of the Koreas’ heavily fortified border village of Panmunjom, according to a joint statement.
It will be the first inter-Korean summit since 2007, a delay that may be partly explained by Moon’s status as his country’s first left-leaning leader in a decade — bilateral ties completely broke down in the interim over the course of two conservative administrations.
Unlike his liberal predecessors, Moon will not have to travel to Pyongyang.
Kim’s apparent willingness to visit the southern portion of the inter-Korean Demilitarized Zone comes after his surprise trip to China this week, which was his first overseas trip since taking power in 2011.
Speculation has been building that North Korea is being forced into engagement by crippling global sanctions aimed at ending its rogue development of nuclear weapons.
This year’s planned summits follow a series of inter-Korean meetings since January that included cooperative efforts in line with the South hosting the Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
North Korea’s leader has suggested he is ready to discuss denuclearization as long as Seoul and Washington also take steps towards peace.–AA

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