South Korean president: ‘I believe Trump did a lot’ to bring North and South Korea together

South Korean President Moon Jae-in attends a news conference in Seoul, South Korea, January 10, 2018.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in attends a news conference in Seoul, South Korea, January 10, 2018.
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Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

  • South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that President Donald Trump “did a lot” to help facilitate the bilateral talks with North Korea.
  • Moon, who grinned during his response, amused other reporters in the room.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in attributed the recent warming relations between his country and North Korea to the US President Donald Trump during a New Year’s press conference at the Presidential Blue House on Wednesday.

Asked by a reporter whether Trump deserved credit for helping to facilitate the talks – the first dialogue between North and South Korea in over two years – Moon grinned and said that he believed the US president “did a lot” and said that he wanted to “convey his thanks.”

Moon’s comments about Trump’s role, which drew some laughter from several reporters in the room, have raised eyebrows in the US and elsewhere, given Trump’s history of inflammatory tweets and statements on the two Koreas. Trump has previously made several disparaging statements about the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. More recently, Trump threatened the North with “fire and fury” and later floated the possibility of negotiations.

For now, Trump appears to approve of the bilateral talks between the two Koreas and suggested that the US would also be open to the possibility.

Trump said on Saturday: “Sure, I always believe in talking, but we have a very firm stance. Look, our stance, you know what it is. We’re very firm. But I would be, absolutely I would do that. I don’t have a problem with that at all.”

“[Kim] knows I’m not messing around,” Trump continued. “I’m not messing around. Not even a little bit. Not even 1%. He understands that. At the same time, if we can come up with a very peaceful and very good solution, we’re working on it … with a lot of people.”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in answers questions during his news conference.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in answers questions during his news conference.
source
Thomson Reuters

Moon, who said that US-led sanctions against North Korea may have played a role in advancing the talks, also made a point to emphasize his commitment to a denuclearized North Korea: “The denuclearization of the Korean peninsula the two Koreas agreed upon jointly [in the past] is our basic stance that will never be given up,” Moon said, according to Reuters.

The press conference, which was open to many news outlets, featured questions in both Korean and English, and played out much differently from White House press briefings, which have been particularly terse under the Trump administration.

Moon answered questions for over an hour with reporters, promising to continue the briefings and meet with reporters.

“I apologize for not getting to all of your questions,” Moon said at the end of the briefing. “If there is another chance like this, those who couldn’t ask questions today will be given another chance.”

Moon’s briefing comes amid the the watershed negotiations with a North Korean delegation ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics held in South Korea in February. North Korea has since agreed to send a delegation of athletes and officials to the games.