The U.S. -Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), hammered out by Trump's Democratic predecessor Barack Obama, has been a frequent target for Trump, who in earlier interviews with Reuters threatened to withdraw from what he called an unequal deal in which Washington runs a trade deficit of nearly $28 billion with Seoul. The administration has been in talks to make adjustments to the trade agreement with South Korea.

The report published on Saturday reveals President Trump has asked advisers to prepare to leave the deal, and will likely begin the formal process as early as next week.

Trump was apparently incensed when he was briefed about a meeting by trade officials from both sides on August 22, when they failed to agree on talks to revise the pact.

Also perplexing is why Trump would let his thoughts on the matter - which South Korea considers a pillar of the two countries' economic and security alliance - go public as tensions on the Korean Peninsular reach a fever pitch.

"Now is not the time for Washington to pull out of the KORUS FTA because a rift between the allies is exactly what Pyongyang wants and it's being served to them on a silver platter", Ms Duyeon Kim, a visiting senior fellow at the Seoul-based Korean Peninsula Future Forum, said yesterday.

As Trump considers giving notice to South Korea of USA withdrawal from the pact, he faces a potential divide among his advisers. "But we know that the USA has a strong will to revise the deal". "Discussions are ongoing, but we have no announcements at this time", a White House spokeswoman said.

If the Trump Administration decides to withdraw from deal, the President may look to South Korea to import more US products without restrictions; something he believes will help USA businesses and workers.

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A South Korean trade ministry official said the government has been "thoroughly preparing for all possibilities" and would negotiate with Washington with an open attitude.

The idea of potentially withdrawing seems to have been prompted by the breakdown in negotiations between South Korean officials and the United States trade representative, Mr Robert Lighthizer, a USA official with knowledge of the situation said.

Mr Trump's push to revise the deal is part of his broader drive to tackle unfair trading practices and cut the U.S. trade deficit.

Senator Sasse and Nebraska political and ag leaders have already been opposing the president over his threat to pull out of NAFTA - the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The United States and South Korea also held a special session of the KORUS Joint Committee on Aug 22 to discuss potential changes to the pact.

According to a report by Reuters, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce memo asked its senior executives to push for an "all hands on deck effort" to convince the White House not to terminate the deal.

"South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!"


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