SEOUL, Sept. 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has criticized his liberal predecessor Moon Jae-in's dovish approach to North Korea as "being obsessed with only one friend," while stressing his focus on deterrence to counter evolving threats from the recalcitrant regime, The New York Times reported Sunday.
During the interview, the president expressed his thoughts on Moon's diplomacy toward Pyongyang through summitry, and Moon's stance between Washington and Beijing, which he described as "political show" and "too ambiguous," respectively.
"(Yoon) compared Mr. Moon to a 'student obsessed with only one friend in his classroom: North Korea,'" the newspaper said in an apparent reference to Moon's largely unfruitful push for inter-Korean rapprochement and peace on the Korean Peninsula.
On the policy stance between the United States and China, Yoon highlighted his pursuit of more clarity.
"I will pursue predictability, and South Korea will take a more clear position with respect to U.S.-China relations," Yoon was quoted as saying.
Seoul's position has taken on greater clarity in geopolitics, as it has aligned more with Washington by scaling up combined military exercises and joining the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework seen as an effort to counter China's growing influence.
Yoon, however, pointed out Seoul's security partnership with Washington was not aimed at China. He also acknowledged "limits to how far South Korea could go in confronting China," according to the Times.
Touching on North Korean security challenges, he said the allies were prepared to bring "a package of all possible means and methods," including America's nuclear umbrella, to avoid a war.
Yoon also stressed the importance of extended deterrence, the U.S.' commitment to mobilizing the full range of its military capabilities, including nuclear ones, to defend its ally.
"I seek to find the answer in strengthening the extended deterrence based on a strong South Korea-U.S. alliance," he said.
But Yoon also held out the prospect of the North's "bright economic future" to unfold should its leader choose denuclearization.
On the relations with Japan, the president said he hoped to strike a "grand bargain" with Tokyo over thorny historical issues -- yet another indication of his desire to address the two countries' grievances and work together to confront shared challenges, like North Korean threats.
Commenting on China's opposition to the U.S. Forces Korea's THAAD missile defense system here, Yoon reiterated it is a "matter of sovereignty and security, which is not subject to any compromise."
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