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South Korea's new U.S. ambassador has called Trump "treacherous"

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday appointed a new ambassador to the U.S. who has described Donald Trump as "treacherous," only a month after Britain's envoy to Washington had to step down over his criticisms of the U.S. president.

In the early 2000s, Lee Soo-hyuck, a career diplomat before becoming a ruling party lawmaker, was Seoul's chief negotiator in the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program.

Now he will be responsible for guiding the relationship between Seoul and Washington, which have not always seen eye-to-eye over the nuclear-armed North or their own ties.

But only last year, the South's Chosun Ilbo newspaper cited him as criticizing Mr. Trump.

South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Lee
Lee Soo-Hyuck in February 2004 Kim Jae-hwan / AFP / Getty Images

Lee had been asked about an incident at the White House when the U.S. president declined to have Moon's answer to a reporter's question translated, saying "I'm sure I've heard it before".

Lee told the paper: "That's Trump's style. I don't think he's only done that to Moon. He's treacherous," adding that as a former businessman, the U,S, leader had a tendency to say insincere things.

"To be honest, I really don't like…" Lee went on, without making clear whether his disapproval was of Trump personally or his manner.

His appointment comes only a month after Britain's ambassador to Washington resigned after Mr. Trump targeted him over highly critical comments that put London and Washington's relationship on edge.

In a series of confidential diplomatic cables revealed by a British newspaper, Kim Darroch described the U.S. leader as "inept" and his White House as "uniquely dysfunctional," adding the president was "radiating insecurity."

Mr. Trump hit back with a torrent of angry tweets, saying he would not deal with Darroch again, describing him as a "very stupid guy" and a "pompous fool," and also calling Britain's then-Prime Minister Theresa May "foolish."

Seoul and Washington are in a security alliance and the U.S. stations 28,500 troops in the South to protect it against its neighbor, which invaded in 1950.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly demanded Seoul pay more toward the cost of the U.S. troop presence and has hinted the troops could be withdrawn.

Negotiations on another increase had started, he tweeted Thursday, only for Seoul to deny that was the case.

The North has fired four sets of projectiles in the last two weeks to demonstrate its anger over joint military exercises between the South and the U.S. but Mr. Trump has played them down, raising concerns among some South Koreans that Washington is concerned primarily with its own security.

And while Seoul and Tokyo are embroiled in a bitter dispute over trade and history, conservative Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has established a much closer relationship with Mr. Trump, bonding over burgers and golf, than has Moon, a left-leaning former human rights lawyer.

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