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President Moon returns home after U.S. trip

All Headlines 19:55 July 02, 2017

SEOUL, July 2 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in returned home Sunday after his trip to the United States for a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

The meeting marked his first bilateral talks with the U.S. leader, and the visit was his maiden trip since taking office May 10.

The talks largely sought to find ways to strengthen the countries' alliance and their joint efforts to denuclearize North Korea.

In a joint press conference following their summit Friday (Washington time), the South Korean president said they will further strengthen their overwhelming deterrence and firmly counter any North Korean threats or provocations.

He and Trump also urged the North to choose a "better path" for its long-suffering people, also offering assurances that the allies have no intention of toppling the North Korean regime.

"In reaffirming our two sides' shared top priority to resolve the nuclear issue, the two leaders emphasized that the United States and the ROK do not maintain a hostile policy toward North Korea and, together with the rest of the international community, stand ready to offer a brighter future for North Korea if it chooses the right path," they said in a joint statement issued Friday. The ROK stands for South Korea's official name, the Republic of Korea.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) and U.S. President Donald Trump walk toward the White House Rose Garden, where they held a joint press conference following their bilateral summit on June 30, 2017. (Yonhap)

They also made it clear that dialogue will be possible, possibly following initial steps by North Korea to denuclearize, an apparent concession from Trump who earlier advocated a resumption of dialogue after the communist state completely dismantles its nuclear capabilities.

"Noting that sanctions are a tool of diplomacy, the two leaders emphasized that the door to dialogue with North Korea remains open under the right circumstances," the joint statement said.

Still, one of the most positive outcomes of the summit may have been Moon's newly formed close and personal relationship with the U.S. president, officials from the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae have noted.

Moon had personally noted the importance of his personal relationship with Trump, saying they may work together over the next five years. And they certainly built personal trust in the process that exceeds what we had hoped for," Moon's chief press secretary Yoon Young-chan told reporters earlier.

Confirming, Trump said his personal relationship with Moon was "very, very good."

Moon and Trump will meet again next week when they both fly to Hamburg, Germany, for the Group of 20 summit.

They will be joined by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for dinner and three-way talks over a wide range of issues that will include North Korea, according to their aides.

Trump is also expected to visit South Korea before the year's end on the invitation of his South Korean counterpart extended at their Washington summit.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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