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There is a lot riding on the first-ever meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump, scheduled for June 29-30 at the White House. Topping the agenda will be two issues: North Korea, and South Korea’s U.S.-led missile defense system, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD. While there are concerns that misalignment on these issues will create problems for the alliance, those worries are misplaced; divergence will be manageable.

The real danger rests in one of the core pillars of the alliance -- the Special Measures Agreement that denotes how much South Korea pays for the stationing of U.S. forces on its soil. If handled without care, as Trump has been wont to handle matters of importance in foreign policy, it could do longer-term damage to the alliance.

Dealing with North Korea rightly tops the summit agenda, as Pyongyang poses a security threat to both countries, but policy divergence here is not new. In the past, there were serious misalignments. Yet not only did the alliance endure, it strengthened over time.

Moon favors an engagement-oriented approach, but he will have little opportunity to substantively engage the North. That is because North Korea will continue to be North Korea. The Kim regime will continue to pursue its nuclear weapons program and test missiles. This will limit President Moon’s ability to pursue a rapprochement, ultimately limiting policy divergence between the United States and South Korea.

Hand-wringing over the deployment of THAAD is also commonplace. But this ignores Moon’s domestic political realities and overreacts to a series of unforced errors by the United States in THAAD’s rollout. These missteps have overshadowed the fact that, according to polling by Gallup Korea, a slim majority of the South Korean public consistently favors the deployment of THAAD.

To understand the mistakes Washington has made, consider THAAD’s delivery to South Korea. The South Korean public saw images in the green glow of night-vision as the systems were rolled off of airplanes literally under the cover of dark. The terrible optics of this deployment coincided with a highly unpopular South Korean president being impeached for corruption. This strengthened the narrative that this deployment was being conducted in secret, with the explicit goal of avoiding public scrutiny.

In this light, Moon’s decision to delay the full deployment is astute. As a year-long environmental impact study takes place, two launchers will remain operable while four others wait to come on line. Full deployment will likely take place, but Moon has effectively bought time for broader public support to overwrite the anger of a vocal minority, thus smoothing over a potential trouble spot in the U.S.-South Korea alliance.

The bigger concern for both sides should be the SMA. During the campaign, Trump identified South Korea as a free-riding ally unwilling to pay its fair share. That is not the case. In 2015, South Korea contributed $932 million -- nearly 50 percent of the total cost of basing and maintaining U.S. forces in the country. This is in line with Japan’s contribution, an ally that U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis called a model for cost-sharing.

The negotiations for the current SMA were handled with care, largely out of the public eye. That was for good reason. Opposition lawmakers said the agreement was humiliating, and in 2013, a poll conducted by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies found that 57 percent of the South Korean public thought South Korea was paying too much.

In a White House that sees foreign policy as transactional, a suboptimal summit will increase the likelihood that SMA talks turn from negotiation to perceived extortion. An impulsive tweet or a statement on the need for South Korea to dramatically increase its contribution will touch a raw nerve that recalls the days when the United States treated South Korea as a client state rather than the trusted partner it feels it now deserves to be.

With an already high distrust of President Trump among the South Korean public, such an outcome would drive South Korean public opinion sharply against the United States. Gaps between the two countries will provide an opening that North Korea and China will seek to exploit. These perceptions will do longer-lasting damage to the U.S.-South Korea alliance than policy divergence on either North Korea or THAAD. Getting the summit right will likely mean ongoing disagreement about the best ways to approach North Korea and the urgency of THAAD deployment. Those disagreements can be managed within the alliance. Getting it wrong could mean a series of 140-character missives that derail a 70-year partnership for the foreseeable future.