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Trump, Moon to Have 'Friendly, Frank' Discussion


South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in, is in Washington for talks with President Donald Trump. The meeting could reveal disagreements over issues including trade, defense ties, and how to handle North Korea.

During the campaign, Trump regularly accused Seoul of ripping off the U.S. on trade and threatened to withdraw U.S. troops from South Korea.

"We pay for South Korea, 28,000 soldiers on the line, and we pay," Trump declared.

At one point, Trump suggested he'd have North Korean leader Kim Jong Un assassinated, a threat he's since walked back.

More recently, Trump has said he would be willing to meet Kim face-to-face, under the right circumstances.

Still, his approach to the North stands in stark contrast to that of Moon, a liberal human rights lawyer who advocates engagement with Pyongyang. But the two leaders' strategies aren't as contradictory as they may seem, according to Gary Samore, an Obama White House official, who spoke to VOA via Skype.

"Trump has said many different things about North Korea, but I think the overall strategy is pressure to create conditions for engagement," Samore said. "And that's something that President Moon has actually endorsed."

Disagreements could also arise over the deployment of the THAAD U.S. anti-ballistic missile system in South Korea. Moon paused the deployment, pending an environmental review, a move that angered Washington.

But those disagreements won't necessarily surface publicly this week cautions Bruce Klingner of the Heritage Foundation, who also spoke to VOA via Skype.

"Since their election, both presidents seem to have taken a great deal of care to send reassurances, either directly or through senior envoys, so I think both presidents are going to be trying to put their best face forward on this summit," Klingner said.

A senior White House official this week said the THAAD deployment will be discussed as what he called a "routine point of housekeeping", but stressed, overall, he expects the talks to be "frank" but "friendly."

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