President Trump ‘Suspended Indefinitely’ Major US Military Exercises with SKorea
As of Thursday, the US military has indefinitely postponed major joint exercises with SKorea acting on US President Donald Trump’s pledge to halt the “provocative” military drills following his summit with NKorea’s Chairman Kim Jong Un.
The move, a significant break in how the US and SKorean militaries have worked together for decades, came even as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that peace efforts still face risks, and insisted sanctions must be maintained until Pyongyang dismantles its nuclear arsenal.
Major military exercises have been suspended indefinitely on the Korean peninsula.
Tuesday, President Trump said the US would halt “war games” with its SKorean security ally, but he did not make clear when the freeze would kick in, now it is clear.
US and SKorean forces have been training together for years, and routinely rehearse everything from beach landings to an invasion from the North, or even “decapitation” strikes targeting the NKorean regime.
President Trump and Chairman signed a joint statement at the Singapore Summit in which Chairman Kim committed “to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
Speaking on a regional tour to brief South Korean, Japanese and Chinese officials about the historic summit, Secretary of State Pompeo said Washington remains committed to the “complete, verifiable and irreversible” denuclearization of NKorea.
“We believe that Kim Jong Un understands the urgency… that we must do this quickly,” he said of the effort to have NKorea abandon its atomic arsenal.
In Beijing, Pompeo also said China “reaffirmed its commitment” to United Nations sanctions after the foreign ministry suggested earlier this week that the UN Security Council could consider easing the economic punishment against its Cold War-era ally.
“We truly believe that we have a path forward after so many years that can bring peace,” Secretary Pompeo told Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi before talks with President Xi Jinping.
But, he said, “there are still risks that we won’t achieve” that goal, and more work needs to be done.
Any reduction in tensions on its doorstep is welcome for China, NKorea’s closest ally, which accounts for around 90% of Pyongyang’s trade.
Speaking alongside FM Wang, Secretary Pompeo said the UN resolutions have mechanisms for sanctions relief “and we agreed that at the appropriate time that those would be considered,” stressing that any relief would come only after “full denuclearization.”
For his part, FM Wang said China has a “firm commitment” to denuclearization but that NKorea’s “legitimate” concerns must be addressed.
SKorean President Moon Jae-in acknowledged that “there may be very conflicting views” about the Summit, but it had still helped mitigate fears of a nuclear war.
SForeign Minister Kang Kyung-wha sidestepping the issue of military drills, saying the matter would be left to military authorities to discuss, and that the US-SKorea alliance remained “as robust as ever.”
Have a terrific weekend.
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