Monday, 24 September, 2018


South Korea seeks clarity from United States after Trump-Kim summit

The US-South Korean exercise calendar hits a high point every year The US-South Korean exercise calendar hits a high point every year
Bennie Garza | 13 June, 2018, 19:13

After meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Monday, Trump announced the United States will be "stopping the war games" on the Korean peninsula, describing them as expensive and "provocative". It is said that he's keen on keeping all details about his health and his personal life a secret.

It has nearly 30,000 troops in South Korea and the two countries hold annual large-scale drills.

The next scheduled major exercise, known as Ulchi Freedom Guardian and involving tens of thousands of troops, normally is held in August.

While expressing cautious optimism about events of the past 48 hours, Bishop stressed the strength of the agreement between Trump and Kim Jong-un "will only be as good as the verification process that North Korea allows".

"Right now, the USA and South Korea are not engaged [on troop withdrawal], and we're the only ones who make up our mind on this", he said.

"I think it is very provocative".

The KCNA report, as well as the joint statement after the summit, also mentioned that the president had offered North Korea unspecified security guarantees, which Pyongyang considers an indispensable precondition for nuclear disarmament.

It will be tough to upstage the US President pulling an iPad and showing Kim Jong-un the cheesy trailer of a straight-to-video 1980s B-grade action movie - complete with a Sylvester Stallone cameo - casting the two leaders as heroes destined to save the world's 7 billion people. Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters earlier this month that the troops are "not going anywhere".

"It feels like there is a big change coming with this", she said.

Mr Pompeo is expected to give a more detailed account of the first-ever US-North Korea summit to Mr Moon and his South Korean counterparts, the Cheong Wa Dae official noted.

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

The South Korean government also appeared caught off guard.

He said Trump's comments reinforced fears that North Korea could attempt to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul. The South Korean military seemed similarly surprised.

Seoul is still trying to understand the meaning of Mr Trump's remarks and whether they indicate an actual shift in the US's seven-decade defence relationship with Seoul, a spokesman for South Korean President Moon Jaei-in said.

A degree of confusion arose after Vice President Mike Pence spoke to senators at a lunch closed to media coverage. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo. - although that was immediately disputed by Pence's office.

South Korea will be looking for clarity from Mike Pompeo on key security issues raised by the Trump-Kim summit, when the U.S. secretary of state visits Seoul on Wednesday.

Since he was on the campaign trail, Trump has called on Seoul to pay much more for the upkeep of the USFK and has ordered USA negotiators to make sure that Seoul pays over 1.5 times more than its current annual share of W960.2 billion (US$1=W1,078).

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