South Korean business executives of the country’s leading companies may have breathed a collective sigh of relief after meeting U.S. President Donald Trump in Seoul on Sunday.
Trump, who made a brief but historic trip into the North Korean side of the border village of Panmunjom, made time to speak to a group of South Korean business leaders before he returned to Washington, South Korean television network MBC reported.
South Korean executives, including Lotte Group chairman Shin Dong-bin, and billionaire chief executive of SK Holdings Chey Tae-won, had arrived more than an hour early to meet with Trump and his delegation, which included daughter Ivanka Trump.
The executives may have been relieved when Trump did not raise the issue of severing ties with Huawei Technologies — the Chinese firm the United States blacklisted six weeks ago.
A source who spoke to MBC said the executives did not know “what to expect” from Trump, and that they had agreed “to cooperate with each other” on any potential demands from the U.S. president.
Trump omitted warnings against Huawei on Sunday. During his address to the executives he instead stressed the importance of the U.S.-South Korea alliance.
He also “unexpectedly” raised the issue the automotive industry, pointing out during his term of office foreign car companies have been making inroads into Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania
Je Hyun-jung, a researcher at the Korea International Trade Association, said Trump may have mentioned key battleground states where he needs to win ahead of 2020.
Trump’s retreat from warning allies against Huawei comes a day after reversing some of his earlier restrictions.
CNN reported Saturday at the G20 summit Trump said he would allow U.S. companies to work with Huawei.
“U.S. companies can sell their equipment to Huawei,” Trump said, adding the transactions would not present a “great, national emergency problem.”
Huawei described the move as a “U-turn” through its official Twitter account.