U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday that South Korean President Moon Jae-in asked him to help resolve tensions between Korea and Japan and that he is willing, if both sides request.
Speaking to the White House press corps in the Oval Office to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, Trump said President Moon asked whether he could mediate.
Trump said he will be there if the two countries need him, but pointed out he prefers Seoul and Tokyo resolve the trade dispute by themselves.
These are Trump's first remarks on the political and economic tensions between Seoul and Tokyo over recent export restrictions.
Seoul's presidential office said that during summit talks on June 30th, Moon asked for Trump's interest in the dispute.
Presidential spokeswoman Ko Min-jung unveiled this fact on Saturday, saying Moon's remark was part of efforts to resolve issues with Japan diplomatically while the Japanese media at the time was continuously reporting on Tokyo's possible economic retaliation.
Meanwhile, Voice of America quoted an official from the U.S. State Department as saying that Washington does not plan to play a mediating role, other than to encourage both sides to focus on key issues in the region.
The official said the U.S. will continue to encourage its two close allies to resolve this issue through sincere discussions.