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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Oct. 5)

All News 06:56 October 05, 2020

Trump's virus infection
Pompeo cancels visit to South Korea

U.S. President Donald Trump's COVID-19 infection is bad news not only for the U.S., but for the world. The health issues of leaders of superpowers can pose a security threat. In this sense, Trump's health problem ― although potentially not serious ― could increase uncertainties over political developments in the U.S. and negatively affect global financial markets.

We wish President Trump and first lady Melania Trump a quick recovery from the coronavirus. We also hope that he will soon get back to work after receiving treatment under quarantine. The longer he is absent from the White House, the greater uncertainties there will be over his leadership and the political timetable in the U.S.

Trump's aides and medical staff have expressed cautious optimism about his health. He was known to have mild symptoms of a cough, nasal congestion and fatigue. On Saturday, Trump, 74, said in a video from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center that he was beginning to feel better and hoped to "be back soon." But still no one knows for sure that he will get better soon, considering his age and obesity.

Trump and his wife tested positive for the coronavirus Thursday, just one month before the Nov. 3 presidential election. The test result is apparently a setback to Trump's re-election bid. He has stopped his campaigning and canceled television debates with his rival, former Vice President Joe Biden of the Democratic Party.

Critics may argue that Trump's infection has come as no surprise because he has so far played down the risk of COVID-19, even refusing to wear face masks. Trump wrongly claimed the coronavirus was a hoax. Now we hope he will change his misguided perception about the pandemic and have a correct understanding of it.

President Moon Jae-in joined world leaders in sending a message to Trump and his wife, wishing them a swift recovery. Moon's message followed a similar one tweeted in April to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who was hospitalized for the coronavirus. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un also did the same to offer his sympathy to the U.S. president. Kim apparently wants to maintain good personal ties with Trump although denuclearization talks have been deadlocked since the Hanoi summit in February 2019.

The Moon administration needs to take measures to minimize any possible fallout from the U.S. leader's health problems. Moon should have close consultations with the Trump administration to maintain the strong alliance with the U.S. to cope with military threats from North Korea.

On Saturday, the State Department announced the cancellation of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's plan to visit Seoul this week as part of his Asian visit including Japan and Mongolia. The move seemed closely related to Trump's infection. But it will not affect Seoul-Washington relations. The department said it would reschedule Pompeo's visit in several weeks.

The Moon government also should be prepared for any impact of Trump's health issue on the local financial market. There is so far little sign of instability globally, but we have to take timely and appropriate action if Trump goes through a prolonged treatment period or his condition worsens.

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