“The days when North Korea could create a crisis and elicit concessions, those days are over,” Obama said.
For her part, Park set the tone for the first foreign trip of her presidency with pre-departure vows of swift and more-than-commensurate military response to any North Korean attack.
But Park, who took office in February just two weeks after the North’s third nuclear test, has also made it clear that she sees her toughness as part of a “trust politik” that would allow for renewed dialogue with the North.
Yet a key ingredient of her approach toward the North is her ability to demonstrate a solid US-South Korea alliance, regional experts say – a factor that explains the tone of the Park-Obama summit Tuesday.
Part of Park’s “trust politik” is also to convince the US it can trust her to reengage with Pyongyang when (and if) the opportunity arises.
“What this summit is really about is building a relationship,” says Victor Cha, a former director for Asian affairs on the National Security Council and now the Korea chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington.