South Korean says U.S. must not strike North Korea without Seoul's consent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump should “under no circumstances” take military action against North Korea without the consent of the government in Seoul, the chairwoman of South Korea’s ruling party, Choo Mi-ae, said on Wednesday.

“President Trump often emphasizes that he put all options on the table,” Choo told a Washington think-tank. “We want to make sure that this option of another war is not placed on the table. Under no circumstances should the U.S. go ahead and use a military option without the consent of South Korea.”

“We must seek a peaceful resolution of the matter in any manner that is available to us.”

The remarks by Choo, who is expected to meet Trump administration officials in Washington, underscored South Korean concerns that any U.S. strikes against North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs could provoke devastating North Korean retaliation against South Korea.

Visiting Seoul last week, Trump warned North Korea he was prepared to use the full range of U.S. military power to stop any attack, but also urged Pyongyang to “make a deal.”

Trump, who had previously called negotiations with North Korea a waste of time, has offered no clear path to talks and has sent mixed signals about his interest in negotiations.

Speaking on his return from Asia, Trump said he and Chinese President Xi Jinping had rejected a “freeze for freeze” agreement.

China and Russia have previously advocated such a plan, where the United States and South Korea stop major military exercises in exchange for North Korea halting its weapons programs. It was not clear if this was what Trump meant.

“We agreed that we would not accept a so-called ‘freeze for freeze’ agreement like those that have consistently failed in the past,” Trump said.

There was no immediate comment from China’s embassy in Washington.

Pyongyang has shown little interest in negotiations, at least until it has developed a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.

Choo, whose president and fellow Democratic Party leader Moon Jae-in has advocated dialogue with North Korea, said Seoul backed Trump’s policy of maximum pressure on Pyongyang through sanctions and there should be no talks for the sake of talks.

However, she said blocking opportunities for dialogue could prompt North Korean “miscalculation.”

She declined to say whether she was satisfied with the Trump administration’s limited efforts to talk to Pyongyang to resolve the crisis stemming from North Korea’s efforts to develop nuclear-tipped missiles capable of hitting the United States.

Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Matt Spetalnick in Washington; Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by James Dalgleish