Friday, 16 November, 2018

Trump says he will stop ‘war games’ with S Korea

Patty Aguilar | 13 June, 2018, 23:17

"For North Korea, they got exactly what they wanted", Moon Seong-mook, a former South Korean military official and current head of the Unification Strategy Center in Seoul.

He described the Kim-Trump face-to-face as "cordial and symbolic", a far cry from a year ago when the men were trading barbs and threatening nuclear conflict.

In Pyongyang, North Korean state media heralded claims of a victorious meeting with the U.S. president; photos of him standing side-by-side with Trump on the world stage were splashed across newspapers.

North Korea sees the annual exercises as a rehearsal for invasion, but the government in Seoul maintains they are defensive in nature.

Before signing what Trump described as a "comprehensive letter", Kim said the two leaders had held a historic meeting "and chose to leave the past behind".

"Despite its many flaws", Cha wrote, "the Singapore summit represents the start of a diplomatic process that takes us away from the brink of war".

Trump's comment on suspending joint exercises with Seoul have caught South Korea's Defense Ministry and USA forces in Korea off guard.

North Korea in May cancelled talks with Seoul over "Max Thunder" joint military air exercises between the United States and the South.

Trump's remarks also caused confusion among his Republican allies on Capitol Hill.

As Mr Trump returned to the US, he tweeted that Pyongyang no longer posed a nuclear threat - despite critics saying the US President's comments were premature.

"It is something that [North Korea] very much appreciated", he said, adding that the exercises cost too much and are seen as provocative by North Korea.

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Independent experts say the North could have enough fissile material for anywhere between about a dozen and 60 nuclear bombs. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Pompeo, the former Central Intelligence Agency director, then plans to fly to Beijing to update the Chinese government on the talks.

"Wow. If this is it. this is depressing", tweeted Robert E. Kelly, Professor of Political Science at Pusan National University in South Korea.

The US stations about 30,000 troops in security ally South Korea to protect it from its neighbour, which invaded it in 1950 in an attempt to reunify the peninsula by force.

While Mr Trump has confirmed Mr Kim has agreed to work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, it was only briefly referenced twice in the article.

When asked whether Trump was jumping the gun by declaring victory, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told reporters: "This president wants North Korea to completely denuclearize so obviously that has to be complete, verifiable and irreversible". "I think the entire world is watching this moment", Kim said through an interpreter, comparing it to fantasy and a "science fiction movie".

Mr Trump will depart Singapore from Paya Lebar Airbase at about 7pm, said the White House.

The question of North Korea's dismal human rights record came up a few times at the news conference, and at first, Trump said that he and Kim discussed it "relatively briefly", but later saying that "it was discussed at length outside of the nuclear situation".

"I find that question insulting and ridiculous and frankly ludicrous", Pompeo said.

Trump said Kim told him that he is getting rid of the nuclear weapons.

He would not say whether that included the possibility of withdrawing US troops from the Korean Peninsula, but said the context of the discussions was "radically different than ever before".

They hold joint military exercises every year that infuriate Pyongyang, which has long demanded an end to the drills and often responds with actions of its own, ratcheting up tensions. "I think you're going to find this is different", Trump said.

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