Deja vu as softer South Korean leader could alienate ally US

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South Korean President Moon Jae-In spoke to the leaders of China and Japan on Thursday, hours after a telephone call with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump happened, officials and reports said, as he began shaping his approach to the nuclear armed North.

The South's president additionally dove straight into Beijing's disapproval of Seoul and Washington's move to deploy an American anti-missile system, THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense), on South Korean soil.

While Moon may try to soothe Chinese anger over the missile-defense system, many observers say it appears too late to call for its withdrawal, which would greatly undermine South Korea's relationship with Washington.

"If Moon tries to reopen the industrial park, it will violate the United Nations resolution on North Korea, which required severing all economic aids that may provide financial support to its nuclear arms programs", Kim said.

China's president has set out his opposition to the deployment of a U.S. missile system, in his first discussion with the new South Korean leader.

In his conversation with Abe, Moon pointed out that most South Koreans don't accept an agreement Japan made with the Park administration in December 2015 to compensate women who were forced to work in military brothels during World War II. As for curbing North Korea's nuclear and military ambitions, both leaders agreed they should be willing to negotiate with the regime, but also enforce sanctions if necessary.

During the phone dialogue, Moon advocated a two-track approach of pressure and sanctions toward the DPRK to resolve the country's nuclear issue in a comprehensive, staged way.

Therefore, if an agreement can not be reached, South Korean-US cooperation on anti-North Korean sanctions may actually be strengthened under the new president.

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The deployment of THAAD was agreed by former President Park Geun-hye's administration previous year.

In January, a book by Moon was published where he wrote that South Korea should learn to "say no to America" and become self-reliant in the field of defense capabilities, shifting wartime operational control of the South Korean armed forces from the US back to Seoul.

The leaders agreed to strengthen their countries' alliance.

Moon believed "history education must no longer be used for political purposes", Yoon said.

Pyongyang is also deeply alarmed by Seoul's participation in annual exercises and training with the US military to carry out precision "decapitation" strikes against Kim Jong Un and his lieutenants.

In his speech, Moon, 64, also pledged to sever what he described as the collusive ties between business and government that have plagued many of South Korea's family-run conglomerates, known as chaebol, and vowed to be incorruptible.

North Korea, which considers China its sole major diplomatic ally and economic benefactor, is also expected to send a delegation to the two-day meeting in Beijing, the Chinese foreign ministry has said. Moon also calls for stronger punishment for white-collar crimes committed by chaebol owners and government officials who take bribes from them. In his inaugural address, he promised to "negotiate sincerely" with the US and China to resolve the issue.

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