Thursday, 14 December, 2017

New SKorean president in calls with China, Japan leaders

Kenny Thornton | 14 May, 2017, 22:40

That appointment is still awaiting parliamentary approval.

The election of South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in, has given fresh hope of a thawing in relations with China, which have recently been strained due to the deployment of a controversial missile defense system in South Korea.

"I will urgently try to solve the security crisis", Moon said in the domed rotunda hall of the parliament building.

"If necessary, I will fly to Washington right away".

Even so, North Korea's relations with Moon's conservative predecessor, Park Geun-hye, were extremely bad, so it is nearly certain to be cautious about any Moon proposals for increased engagement.

Mainstream historians say up to 200,000 women, mostly from Korea but also China and other parts of Asia, were forced to work in Japanese military brothels during World War II. "If the conditions shape up, I will go to Pyongyang", Moon said.

Moon met leaders of opposition parties before his simple swearing-in ceremony at parliament and promised to coordinate with them on national security.

"President Moon noted the reality was that most of his people could not accept the agreement over the sexual slavery issue", Moon's chief press secretary Yoon Young-chan said of the president's telephone conversation with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Oil prices pinned near five-month low as supply glut weighs
When the system isn't clogged, oil simply goes through or out of Malaysia to Asia's big consumers in China, Japan or South Korea. CURRENCIES: The dollar recovered from an earlier drop, trading at 112.44 yen, about flat on the day.

Moon waved to well-wishers through the sunroof of his limousine, which was flanked by police motorbikes.

USA officials have expressed concern that Moon's advocacy of engagement with North Korea could undercut USA efforts to increase pressure through further isolation and sanctions. However, given that THAAD's deployment was intentionally expedited in order to go live before the election, a review leading to withdrawal is highly unlikely.

In his inauguration speech a day after his lahe would have "serious negotiations" with the United States and China to resolve tensions over THAAD, which Beijing has deemed a security threat.

Asian affairs expert Larry Niksch, a senior associate with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), warned that the new president should not offer North Korea unilateral measures "to reopen sunshine policies", including resuming the Kaesong Industrial Complex, Mt. Kumgang tourism or food aid.

The North has staged two atomic tests and dozens of missile launches since past year in its quest to deliver a nuclear warhead to "imperialist enemy" the US.

Bruce Bennett, defense expert and senior researcher at the RAND Corporation, pointed out the dilemma that Moon faces, because if the new president rejects Thaad, it will "lead to difficulty with the United States" but if he supports it, this would lead to difficulty with China.

It might be North Korea, which sees Moon as an advocate of a softer approach to ridding the North of nuclear weapons.

Mr Moon's softer stance on North Korea could create friction with Washington, which has swung from threats of military action to hints of dialogue as it seeks to formulate a policy under President Donald Trump. I look forward to seeing you soon.

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