President Donald Trump did not shy away from the difficult issue of trade in his public remarks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at a meeting at the White House on Friday.
Trump has been highly critical of the trade deal signed under President Barack Obama that saw the U.S. trade deficit for goods with South Korea double from 2011 to 2016, from $13 billion to nearly $27.5 billion.
“We are renegotiating a trade deal right now as we speak with South Korea. And hopefully it will be an equitable deal, a fair deal to both parties,” Trump told a crush of reporters and cameras at the White House.
“It’s been a rough deal for the United States but I think that it will be much different and it will be good for both parties.”
Trump said the two leaders were also discussing their “many options” in regards to dealing with North Korea.
Moon has taken a softer stance towards his northern communist neighbor than his predecessor did. But with tensions in the area escalating over the North’s nuclear provocations, there have been concerns South Korea and the United States may be diverging in their stance.
After meetings, Moon told reporters at a second joint press conference that that was not the case.
“The threat and provocations by the North will be met with a stern response. The gravest challenge confronting our two nations is the nuclear and missile threat posed by North Korea,” said Moon.
Moon said he and Trump had placed a “top priority” on the issue and would coordinate closely on “relevant policies.”
“To this end, our two leaders will employ both sanctions and dialogue in a phased and comprehensive approach.
“Based on this we both pledged to seek a fundamental resolution of the North Korean nuclear problem.”
The two leaders spent the day in meetings and reconvened later for a joint press conference.