President Donald Trump shed his fiery rhetoric toward North Korea on Tuesday instead delivering a message of resolve and optimism to South Korea, saying he believes "ultimately, it'll all work out" when it comes to Pyongyang's nuclear threat.
After a full day of meetings and public appearances with President Moon Jae-in in Seoul, Trump said diplomatic progress has been made to diffuse heightened tensions in the region.
“May freedom and peace flourish on this peninsula,” said Trump at a state dinner. "Together our nations will remind the world of the boundless potential of societies that choose freedom over tyranny." He added, "we will make things beautiful, especially the aspiration of your people."
President Moon said "the peace of my country" is under threat, but added the longtime alliance between the U.S. and Republic of Korea comes with an "overwhelming superiority of power" that "will eventually make North Korea cease its reckless provocations and make North Korea come out for dialogue for denuclearization."
“War must not break out again on the Korean Peninsula,” said Moon.
Trump's words marked a striking departure from the tone of his tweets in recent weeks suggesting talks with Pyongyang to resolve the nuclear crisis were "a waste of time."
The increasingly fiery rhetoric from the U.S. and North Korea leaders raised concerns about a potential nuclear confrontation on the Korean peninsula.
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Earlier, Trump said Washington and Seoul are working together for a peaceful resolution to the situation with North Korea and added "I believe it makes sense for North Korea to do the right thing" by coming to the negotiating table. But he also said the U.S. "stands prepared to defend itself and its allies using the full range of our unmatched military capabilities if need be."
During a joint news conference, Trump and Moon said it is unacceptable for any nation to help arm and finance the regime of Kim Jong Un. Trump added North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile weapons program posed a "worldwide threat that requires worldwide action."
Trump said the United States and South Korea cannot allow Pyongyang "to threaten all that we have built" since the Korean War six decades ago.
Trump and his wife Melania arrived in Seoul earlier Tuesday, beginning their two-day visit with a trip to Camp Humphreys, a U.S. military base located about 100 kilometers from the demilitarized border separating communist North and democratic South.
During a meeting with military commanders, Trump told reporters the situation with Pyongyang "will all work out, it always works out, it has to work out."
Later in the day, President Moon told his U.S. counterpart during talks at the presidential Blue House he hoped his visit will serve as a "turning point in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue" and relieve the "anxiety" among South Koreans about the situation.
Grant Newsham, a senior research fellow at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies, told VOA's Victor Beattie there is little daylight between the two countries on North Korea, despite Trump's bellicose rhetoric and Moon's insistence on diplomacy plus sanctions.
"I think where the real problem is that when the U.S. tries to get a trilateral Japan-Korea-America relationship going, particularly in the military sphere, there's really a limit to how far that will go, or [how far] President Moon will let it go," said Newsham.
During his first stop in Tokyo earlier this week, Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed that "all options are on the table" when it comes to dealing with North Korea.
Abe, at a news conference with Trump at the Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, said Monday there is “no point in dialogue for the sake of dialogue with North Korea” and the time has come to exert maximum pressure on Pyongyang.
A nearly three-year war on the Korean peninsula in the early 1950s ended in a stalemate that pitted the United States, South Korea and the United Nations against North Korea, which was backed by forces from China and the Soviet Union.
No peace treaty was signed and the Korean peninsula has remained divided ever since.