S. Korea's leader willing to visit North, talk to US, China
May 20 2017 by Desiree Burns
The Trump administration has also been dismayed by Moon's questioning of deployment of a US missile defense system in South Korea and expects some friction in ties, although USA officials say the new president may moderate his stances in office and the effect on the alliance will be limited.
In their phone call, Trump congratulated Moon on his election victory and his country's "peaceful, democratic transition of power", a White House statement said.
The White House said the two agreed to continue to strengthen the alliance between their countries.
Moon was sworn-in as new South Korean President on Wednesday.
As he took the oath of office Wednesday, Moon Jae-in said he was open to visiting Pyongyang under the right conditions to discuss its nuclear program.
The call to Moon took place just a day after he took office and comes amid increased regional tensions over North Korea as well as the deployment of a USA missile-defense shield in South Korea. Moon advocates a less confrontational policy.
Moon succeeds Park Geun-hye, who was ousted in a corruption scandal. "If the conditions shape up, I will go to Pyongyang".
The Thaad system "is operational and has the ability to intercept North Korean missiles and defend the Republic of Korea", a spokesman for US Forces Korea confirmed on May 2.
Suh Hoon, a career spy agency official who was instrumental in setting up two previous summits between the North and South, was named to head the National Intelligence Service.
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"I take this office empty-handed, and I will leave the office empty-handed", Moon said.
Thaad was deployed to South Korea by the United States in response to North Korea's increased missile and nuclear tests but the defence system has drawn sharp opposition from China and Russian Federation as their territories are within the system's range, according to CNN.
Suh said Moon could go to Pyongyang if it was clear the visit would help resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis and ease tensions.
"Threats from North Korea's nuclear and missile development have entered a new stage", Japan's Abe told Moon in their telephone call, according to Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda.
Moon explained the difficulties faced by South Korean companies that were doing business in China and asked for Xi's "special attention" to ease those concerns, Yoon said.
Moon's pick for National Intelligence Service chief is Suh Hoon, a longtime intelligence official Moon said would be the right man to push reforms at NIS, which has always been accused of meddling in domestic politics.
China says the system does little to curb the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes, which it has been pressing ahead with in defiance of USA pressure and United Nations sanctions.
While South Korea, China and Japan all share worry about North Korea, ties between South Korea and China have been strained by South Korea's decision to install a USA anti-missile system in defence against the North. Moon made a campaign vow to reconsider THAAD.
The U.S. and North Korea aren't now involved in any diplomacy.