Speaking to the White House press corps in the Oval Office on Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump said he is willing to help resolve the escalating tensions between South Korea and Japan if they both ask him to mediate.
President Trump said Washington's involvement would be a (quote)" full-time job", hinting the U.S. prefers the two Asian countries to iron out their differences by themselves.
Although he didn't elaborate in detail, President Trump said President Moon Jae-in had asked him if he could mediate.
"In fact the president of Korea asked me if I could get involved. I say how many things will have to get involved in? I'm involved with North Korea, on helping, you I'm involved in so many different things. We just did a trade deal, a great trade deal with South Korea, but he tells me that they have a lot of friction going on now with respect to trade, primarily with respect to trade."
South Korea's request for President Trump's involvement was verified by Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Ko Min-jung who said President Moon had asked for President Trump's help during their bilateral summit in Seoul last month.
This a part of Seoul's move to resolve the issue diplomatically, amid a slew of Japanese media reports at the time on the possibility of Tokyo slapping economic restrictions on South Korea, as retaliation for Seoul upholding local courts' decision to liquidate certain Japanese companies' assets operating in South Korea to compensate the Korean victims of Japan's wartime forced labor.
Citing an official from the U.S. State Department spokesperson's office, Voice of America reported Saturday, the U.S. will (quote)"encourage" South Korea and Japan to resolve their issue through dialogue, but said Washington has no plans to mediate in their affairs.
The official quoted remarks by David Stilwell, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, who visited Seoul last Wednesday and said that as a close friend and ally of South Korea and Japan the U.S. will "do what it can" to support efforts in resolving the two countries' dispute.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.