N. Korea Belatedly Covers Election of Pres. Moon Jae

In a 40 minute phone call, which the Blue House says is the first time a Chinese leader has called a newly elected South Korean President to congratulate them on an electoral victory, the two leaders reportedly exchanged "broad opinions" on ROK-China relations and North Korea. Tuesday-the day he was elected-Moon announced that "under the right conditions" he could open discussions with Pyongyang, a stance some believe could put the USA ally at odds with the Trump administration as it considers military intervention in the region.

"I will urgently try to solve the security crisis", Mr Moon said in the domed rotunda hall of the parliament building.

"I will do whatever it takes to help settle peace on the Korean Peninsula", Moon said during a speech at the National Assembly, where he was formally sworn in on Wednesday. Diplomatically, he is expected to use what he finds about public opinion as he goes through the procedures of discussions with Washington and Beijing. "I will also go to Beijing and Tokyo and even Pyongyang in the right circumstances".

The impeachment and ouster of Park Geun-hye left a vacuum in South Korea's leadership at a time when tensions on the peninsula rose to the highest in years.

On that front, Moon's options to generate major change could be severely limited by South Korea's alliance with the United States and whatever position toward North Korea that President Donald Trump decides to take.

"On behalf of the Filipino nation, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte wishes to extend his warm congratulations to Mr. Moon Jae-in on his election as the new President of the Republic of Korea [ROK]", presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

Abella said the Philippine government remains committed to further strengthen relations with South Korea after Moon's win.

More news: Promoters want the rematch with Klitschko and Joshua in China

In their first direct talks, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed to cooperate in dealing with North Korea's military provocations.

Moon also expressed hopes the two countries would be able to cooperate in developing East Asia, including extending a natural gas pipeline from Siberia to South Korea, the Blue House said.

The dispute could complicate what has been a growing alliance between the countries, although Moon also stressed that historical problem should not hinder bilateral relations on other issues.

China has pressured South Korea both economically and politically to abandon THAAD, which Beijing argues poses a threat to China's national security.

Seoul is embroiled in a diplomatic dispute with her former colonial power Japan over its wartime history, however fellow USA ally Tokyo is also been targeted by the North. With that said, Moon was also particularly vocal in discussing about loosening their ties with the Trump administration.

Moon is a liberal who advocates a more conciliatory approach to North Korea compared with his conservative predecessor. A step forward from his remarks that he would "sincerely negotiate with the United States and China" on THAAD in his inaugural address the day before, Moon's plan suggests Seoul is launching preparations for dialogue with Beijing.

"It hasn't much to do with THAAD directly, but it is a kind of warning" to South Korea and the U.S., Song Zhongping, a Chinese military affairs expert and commentator for Hong Kong's Phoenix TV, told the Associated Press. South Korea plays a crucial role in regional stability, it said.

  • Adam Floyd