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(2nd LD) Moon welcomes Trump at U.S. military base

2017/11/07 14:13

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(ATTN: UPDATES with remarks from President Moon, minor changes in paras 3-10)

SEOUL, Nov. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in made a surprise visit to a U.S. military base to personally welcome U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday in a move that highlights the two countries' alliance of over 60 years.

The previously unannounced visit came as Trump began his two-day visit to South Korea at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of Seoul, after arriving at Osan Air Base.

Trump is the first U.S. president in 25 years to make a state visit to South Korea, according to the South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

His visit also marks the first time a South Korean president has greeted a visiting foreign leader outside of Cheong Wa Dae.

"Today is a very historic day because it marks the first time the two presidents of South Korea and the United States have come together to a U.S. military base in South Korea to encourage their troops," Moon said while jointly hosting a lunch with Trump for South Korean and U.S. service members.

"I wish to express my appreciation and respect to all South Korean and U.S. service members, especially U.S. service members here. It is said hard times will always reveal true friends. You are our true friends who bled with us when South Korea was at its worst," Moon said, according to a video feed posted by Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Park Soo-hyun.

Moon highlighted the importance of the Korea-U.S. alliance, calling it a cornerstone of peace and prosperity not only on the peninsula but in the entire region.

"You are the very strong cornerstone and future of the Korea-U.S. alliance. Let us together create peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia," he said.

Trump was scheduled to receive a security briefing after the lunch meeting.

A formal welcoming ceremony is scheduled to be held later in the day at Cheong Wa Dae, before the two leaders hold their third bilateral summit.