President Trump agrees to South Korean expansion of missile capabilities plus push for dialogue with North Korea
U.S. President Donald Trump has agreed “in principle” to allow South Korea to arm itself with more powerful ballistic missiles, according to Seoul’s presidential office Saturday.
Trump spoke by phone with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in on Friday, just three days after Pyongyang’s latest provocation – a missile test that saw a North Korean projectile fly 2,700 km (1,678 miles) over Japan.
“The two leaders noted the need to strengthen (South Korea’s) defense capabilities to counter provocations and threats from North Korea, and reached an agreement in principle to revise the 'missile guideline' to the extent hoped by the South Korean side,” Seoul’s presidential office spokesman Park Soo-hyun said in a press release carried by local news agency Yonhap.
South Korea is currently limited to a ballistic missile range of up to 800 km (497 miles) and a payload of 500 kg (1102 lb) under a treaty last revised with the U.S. military in 2012.
Moon has intensified efforts to upgrade those terms amid North Korea’s development of weapons of mass destruction to both extend the South’s missile range and double its permitted payload.
A separate White House statement added that Trump gave “conceptual approval” to sell billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment to South Korea.
Seoul’s spokesman went further by suggesting they reaffirmed the importance of dialogue with Pyongyang, despite Trump’s insistence Wednesday that “talking is not the answer!”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later repeated the American president’s policy that “all options are on the table.”