S.Korea's new president says willing to visit rival N.Korea – Daily Mail

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – New South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday he was open to visiting rival North Korea under the right conditions to talk about Pyongyang’s aggressive pursuit of nuclear-tipped missiles.

Moon’s softer stance on North Korea could create friction with Washington, which has swung from threats of military action to hints of dialogue as it seeks to formulate a policy under President Donald Trump.

Moon, speaking during his formal oath of office, also said he’ll “sincerely negotiate” with the United States, Seoul’s top ally, and China, South Korea’s top trading partner, over the contentious deployment of an advanced U.S. missile-defense system in southern South Korea. The system has angered Beijing, which says its powerful radars allow Washington to spy on its own military operations.

New South Korea's President Moon Jae-in, center, writes down a visitor's book at the National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Moon visited the national cemetery where he honored the country's former presidents, independence fighters and war heroes as he began his presidential duties. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)

New South Korea's President Moon Jae-in, center, writes down a visitor's book at the National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Moon visited the national cemetery where he honored the country's former presidents, independence fighters and war heroes as he began his presidential duties. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)

New South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, center, writes down a visitor’s book at the National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Moon visited the national cemetery where he honored the country’s former presidents, independence fighters and war heroes as he began his presidential duties. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)

In a speech at the National Assembly hours after being declared the winner of Tuesday’s election, Moon pledged to work for peace on the Korean Peninsula amid growing worry over the North’s expanding nuclear weapons and missiles program.

“I will quickly move to solve the crisis in national security. I am willing to go anywhere for the peace of the Korean Peninsula – if needed, I will fly immediately to Washington. I will go to Beijing and I will go to Tokyo. If the conditions shape up, I will go to Pyongyang,” Moon said.

Moon, whose victory capped one of the most turbulent political stretches in the nation’s recent history and set up its first liberal rule in a decade, assumed presidential duties early in the morning after the National Election Commission finished counting and declared him winner of the special election necessitated by the ousting of conservative Park Geun-hye.

He is also expected to nominate a prime minister, the country’s No. 2 job that requires approval from lawmakers, and name his presidential chief of staff during the day.

Taking up duties as commander in chief, Moon received a call from Army Gen. Lee Sun-jin, chairman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, who briefed him on the military’s preparedness against North Korea.

He then left his him, receiving an emotional send-off from hundreds of residents, before visiting a national cemetery in Seoul. After bowing to honor the former presidents, independence fighters and war heroes at the cemetery, Moon wrote “A country worth being proud of; a strong and reliable president!” in a visitor book.

He also visited the offices of opposition parties, seeking support in governing the country split along ideological lines and regional loyalties. His Democratic Party has only 120 seats in the 300-seat National Assembly, so he may need broader support while pushing his key policies.

The leaders of China and Japan sent him congratulatory messages. South Korea’s relations with Japan are strained by the Japanese military’s sexual exploitation of South Korean women during World War II, and relations with China have been strained by the THAAD missile-defense system recently deployed in South Korea. Moon made a campaign vow to reconsider the THAAD deployment.

The son of refugees who fled North Korea during the Korean War, Moon will lead a nation shaken by the scandal that felled Park, whose criminal trial is scheduled to start later this month.

Taking office without the usual two-month transition, Moon initially will have to depend on Park’s Cabinet ministers and aides, but he was expected to move quickly to replace them. He will serve the typical single five-year term.

Moon was chief of staff for the last liberal president, the late Roh Moo-hyun, who sought closer ties with North Korea by setting up large-scale aid shipments and working on now-stalled joint economic projects.

Winning 41 percent of the votes, he comfortably edged conservative Hong Joon-pyo and centrist Ahn Cheol-soo, who had 24 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

The conservative Hong had pitched himself as a “strongman,” described the election as a war between ideologies and questioned Moon’s patriotism.

Park’s trial on bribery, extortion and other corruption charges could send her to jail for life if she is convicted. Dozens of high-profile figures, including Park’s longtime confidante, Choi Soon-sil, and Samsung’s de facto leader, Lee Jae-yong, have been indicted along with Park.

Moon frequently appeared at anti-Park rallies and the corruption scandal boosted his push to re-establish liberal rule. He called for reforms to reduce social inequalities, excessive presidential power and corrupt ties between politicians and business leaders. Many of those legacies dated to the dictatorship of Park’s father, Park Chung-hee, whose 18-year rule was marked by both rapid economic rise and severe civil rights abuse.

Many analysts say Moon likely won’t pursue drastic rapprochement policies because North Korea’s nuclear program has progressed significantly since he was in the Roh government a decade ago.

A big challenge will be U.S. President Donald Trump, who has proven himself unconventional in his approach to North Korea, swinging between intense pressure and threats and offers to talk.

“South Koreans are more concerned that Trump, rather than North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, will make a rash military move, because of his outrageous tweets, threats of force and unpredictability,” Duyeon Kim, a visiting fellow at the Korean Peninsula Future Forum in Seoul, wrote recently in Foreign Affairs magazine.

“It is crucial that Trump and the next South Korean president strike up instant, positive chemistry in their first meeting to help work through any bilateral differences and together deal with the North Korean challenge,” she said.

___

Associated Press writer Foster Klug contributed to this report.

New South Korea's President Moon Jae-in, center, arrives at the National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Moon visited the national cemetery where he honored the country's former presidents, independence fighters and war heroes as he began his presidential duties. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)

New South Korea's President Moon Jae-in, center, arrives at the National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Moon visited the national cemetery where he honored the country's former presidents, independence fighters and war heroes as he began his presidential duties. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)

New South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, center, arrives at the National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Moon visited the national cemetery where he honored the country’s former presidents, independence fighters and war heroes as he began his presidential duties. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)

New South Korea's President Moon Jae-in arrives at the National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Moon visited the national cemetery where he honored the country's former presidents, independence fighters and war heroes as he began his presidential duties. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)

New South Korea's President Moon Jae-in arrives at the National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Moon visited the national cemetery where he honored the country's former presidents, independence fighters and war heroes as he began his presidential duties. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)

New South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in arrives at the National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Moon visited the national cemetery where he honored the country’s former presidents, independence fighters and war heroes as he began his presidential duties. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)

New South Korea's President Moon Jae-in, second right on red carpet, offers a wreath at the National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Moon visited the national cemetery where he honored the country's former presidents, independence fighters and war heroes as he began his presidential duties. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)

New South Korea's President Moon Jae-in, second right on red carpet, offers a wreath at the National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Moon visited the national cemetery where he honored the country's former presidents, independence fighters and war heroes as he began his presidential duties. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)

New South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, second right on red carpet, offers a wreath at the National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Moon visited the national cemetery where he honored the country’s former presidents, independence fighters and war heroes as he began his presidential duties. (Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP)

Newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in greets his neighbors and supporters as he leaves his house in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Hours after celebrating his election win with thousands of supporters in wet Seoul streets, new South Korean President Moon on Wednesday was quickly thrown into the job of navigating a nation deeply split over its future and faced with growing threats from North Korea and an uneasy alliance with the United States. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in greets his neighbors and supporters as he leaves his house in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Hours after celebrating his election win with thousands of supporters in wet Seoul streets, new South Korean President Moon on Wednesday was quickly thrown into the job of navigating a nation deeply split over its future and faced with growing threats from North Korea and an uneasy alliance with the United States. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in greets his neighbors and supporters as he leaves his house in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Hours after celebrating his election win with thousands of supporters in wet Seoul streets, new South Korean President Moon on Wednesday was quickly thrown into the job of navigating a nation deeply split over its future and faced with growing threats from North Korea and an uneasy alliance with the United States. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in, front left, greets his neighbors and supporters in front of his house in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Hours after celebrating his election win with thousands of supporters in wet Seoul streets, new South Korean President Moon on Wednesday was quickly thrown into the job of navigating a nation deeply split over its future and faced with growing threats from North Korea and an uneasy alliance with the United States. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in, front left, greets his neighbors and supporters in front of his house in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Hours after celebrating his election win with thousands of supporters in wet Seoul streets, new South Korean President Moon on Wednesday was quickly thrown into the job of navigating a nation deeply split over its future and faced with growing threats from North Korea and an uneasy alliance with the United States. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in, front left, greets his neighbors and supporters in front of his house in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Hours after celebrating his election win with thousands of supporters in wet Seoul streets, new South Korean President Moon on Wednesday was quickly thrown into the job of navigating a nation deeply split over its future and faced with growing threats from North Korea and an uneasy alliance with the United States. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in, center, leaves his house in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Hours after celebrating his election win with thousands of supporters in wet Seoul streets, new South Korean President Moon on Wednesday was quickly thrown into the job of navigating a nation deeply split over its future and faced with growing threats from North Korea and an uneasy alliance with the United States. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in, center, leaves his house in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Hours after celebrating his election win with thousands of supporters in wet Seoul streets, new South Korean President Moon on Wednesday was quickly thrown into the job of navigating a nation deeply split over its future and faced with growing threats from North Korea and an uneasy alliance with the United States. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in, center, leaves his house in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Hours after celebrating his election win with thousands of supporters in wet Seoul streets, new South Korean President Moon on Wednesday was quickly thrown into the job of navigating a nation deeply split over its future and faced with growing threats from North Korea and an uneasy alliance with the United States. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

South Korea's presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party raises his hands as he arrives to give a speech on a stage in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Moon declared victory in South Korea's presidential election after his two main rivals conceded, capping one of the most turbulent political stretches in the nation's recent history and setting up its first liberal rule in a decade. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

South Korea's presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party raises his hands as he arrives to give a speech on a stage in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Moon declared victory in South Korea's presidential election after his two main rivals conceded, capping one of the most turbulent political stretches in the nation's recent history and setting up its first liberal rule in a decade. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

South Korea’s presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party raises his hands as he arrives to give a speech on a stage in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Moon declared victory in South Korea’s presidential election after his two main rivals conceded, capping one of the most turbulent political stretches in the nation’s recent history and setting up its first liberal rule in a decade. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in, right, shakes hands with neighbors and supporters in front of his house in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Hours after celebrating his election win with thousands of supporters in wet Seoul streets, new South Korean President Moon on Wednesday was quickly thrown into the job of navigating a nation deeply split over its future and faced with growing threats from North Korea and an uneasy alliance with the United States. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in, right, shakes hands with neighbors and supporters in front of his house in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Hours after celebrating his election win with thousands of supporters in wet Seoul streets, new South Korean President Moon on Wednesday was quickly thrown into the job of navigating a nation deeply split over its future and faced with growing threats from North Korea and an uneasy alliance with the United States. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in, right, shakes hands with neighbors and supporters in front of his house in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Hours after celebrating his election win with thousands of supporters in wet Seoul streets, new South Korean President Moon on Wednesday was quickly thrown into the job of navigating a nation deeply split over its future and faced with growing threats from North Korea and an uneasy alliance with the United States. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

South Korea's presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party is greeted by supporters as he arrives to give a speech on a stage in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Moon declared victory in South Korea's presidential election Tuesday after his two main rivals conceded, capping one of the most turbulent political stretches in the nation's recent history and setting up its first liberal rule in a decade. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

South Korea's presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party is greeted by supporters as he arrives to give a speech on a stage in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Moon declared victory in South Korea's presidential election Tuesday after his two main rivals conceded, capping one of the most turbulent political stretches in the nation's recent history and setting up its first liberal rule in a decade. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

South Korea’s presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party is greeted by supporters as he arrives to give a speech on a stage in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Moon declared victory in South Korea’s presidential election Tuesday after his two main rivals conceded, capping one of the most turbulent political stretches in the nation’s recent history and setting up its first liberal rule in a decade. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

South Korea's presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party raises his hands as his party leaders and members watch on television local media's results of exit polls for the presidential election in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 9, 2017. Exit polls forecast that liberal candidate Moon will win the election Tuesday to succeed ousted President Park Geun-hye. Official results weren't expected for hours, but the exit poll of about 89,000 voters at 330 polling stations, jointly commissioned by three major television stations and released just after polls closed, showed Moon receiving 41.4 percent of the vote. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

South Korea's presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party raises his hands as his party leaders and members watch on television local media's results of exit polls for the presidential election in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 9, 2017. Exit polls forecast that liberal candidate Moon will win the election Tuesday to succeed ousted President Park Geun-hye. Official results weren't expected for hours, but the exit poll of about 89,000 voters at 330 polling stations, jointly commissioned by three major television stations and released just after polls closed, showed Moon receiving 41.4 percent of the vote. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

South Korea’s presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party raises his hands as his party leaders and members watch on television local media’s results of exit polls for the presidential election in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 9, 2017. Exit polls forecast that liberal candidate Moon will win the election Tuesday to succeed ousted President Park Geun-hye. Official results weren’t expected for hours, but the exit poll of about 89,000 voters at 330 polling stations, jointly commissioned by three major television stations and released just after polls closed, showed Moon receiving 41.4 percent of the vote. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

South Korea's presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party raises his hands in front of the media as his party leaders, members and supporters watch on television local media's results of exit polls for the presidential election at National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 9, 2017. Exit polls forecast that liberal candidate Moon win the election Tuesday to succeed ousted President Park Geun-hye. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

South Korea's presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party raises his hands in front of the media as his party leaders, members and supporters watch on television local media's results of exit polls for the presidential election at National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 9, 2017. Exit polls forecast that liberal candidate Moon win the election Tuesday to succeed ousted President Park Geun-hye. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

South Korea’s presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party raises his hands in front of the media as his party leaders, members and supporters watch on television local media’s results of exit polls for the presidential election at National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 9, 2017. Exit polls forecast that liberal candidate Moon win the election Tuesday to succeed ousted President Park Geun-hye. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

South Korea's presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party smiles as he along with his party leaders and members watch the local media's results of exit polls for the presidential election on television in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 9, 2017. Exit polls forecast that liberal candidate Moon will win the election Tuesday to succeed ousted President Park Geun-hye. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

South Korea's presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party smiles as he along with his party leaders and members watch the local media's results of exit polls for the presidential election on television in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 9, 2017. Exit polls forecast that liberal candidate Moon will win the election Tuesday to succeed ousted President Park Geun-hye. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

South Korea’s presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party smiles as he along with his party leaders and members watch the local media’s results of exit polls for the presidential election on television in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 9, 2017. Exit polls forecast that liberal candidate Moon will win the election Tuesday to succeed ousted President Park Geun-hye. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in, front left, is greeted by neighbors and supporters in front of his house in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Hours after celebrating his election win with thousands of supporters in wet Seoul streets, new South Korean President Moon on Wednesday was quickly thrown into the job of navigating a nation deeply split over its future and faced with growing threats from North Korea and an uneasy alliance with the United States. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in, front left, is greeted by neighbors and supporters in front of his house in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Hours after celebrating his election win with thousands of supporters in wet Seoul streets, new South Korean President Moon on Wednesday was quickly thrown into the job of navigating a nation deeply split over its future and faced with growing threats from North Korea and an uneasy alliance with the United States. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in, front left, is greeted by neighbors and supporters in front of his house in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Hours after celebrating his election win with thousands of supporters in wet Seoul streets, new South Korean President Moon on Wednesday was quickly thrown into the job of navigating a nation deeply split over its future and faced with growing threats from North Korea and an uneasy alliance with the United States. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

South Korea's presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party waves as he arrives to give a speech on a stage in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Moon declared victory in South Korea's presidential election after his two main rivals conceded, capping one of the most turbulent political stretches in the nation's recent history and setting up its first liberal rule in a decade. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

South Korea's presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party waves as he arrives to give a speech on a stage in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Moon declared victory in South Korea's presidential election after his two main rivals conceded, capping one of the most turbulent political stretches in the nation's recent history and setting up its first liberal rule in a decade. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

South Korea’s presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party waves as he arrives to give a speech on a stage in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Moon declared victory in South Korea’s presidential election after his two main rivals conceded, capping one of the most turbulent political stretches in the nation’s recent history and setting up its first liberal rule in a decade. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

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