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Trump says he may delay South Korea trade deal until after North Korea nuclear talks

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016 in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

President Donald Trump said Thursday that he may put a hold on a new trade deal with South Korea just to make sure things are “moving along very nicely” in talks to end the nuclear program in North Korea.

The musing came in a rambling Trump speech about roads and bridges, where he broke off from the main topic repeatedly. To the surprise and confusion of many, Trump drew a possible link between the recently announced trade deal with South Korea and the joint effort by the U.S. and South Korea to enter into talks with North Korea.

The Trump administration announced this week a new trade deal that will lift steel tariffs on South Korea in exchange for greater access to their auto market, an agreement that both sides find economically advantageous. But Trump apparently thinks the deal might be valuable as a bargaining chip in the other conversation, too.

“I may hold it up until after a deal is made with North Korea,” Trump said during the remarks in Ohio. “Because it’s a very strong card and I want to make sure everyone is treated fairly and we’re moving along very nicely with North Korea.”

Trump did not say exactly how he thought the leverage over South Korea might affect the nuclear talks, and the White House did not immediately offer clarification.

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© 2018 Los Angeles Times

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