Major US military exercises with South Korea 'suspended indefinitely'

2018-06-15 05:51:33 GMT2018-06-15 13:51:33(Beijing Time) Sina English

The US military has indefinitely postponed major joint exercises with South Korea, an official told AFP on Thursday, acting on President Donald Trump's pledge to halt the "provocative" military drills following his summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

The move, a significant break in how the US and South Korean 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.

US-South Korea military exercises have long been a source of irritation for North Korea, which considers them preparation for an invasion  US-South Korea military exercises have long been a source of irritation for North Korea, which considers them preparation for an invasion

"Major military exercises have been suspended indefinitely on the Korean peninsula," a senior US official told AFP. Trump on Tuesday had said the US would halt "war games" with its South Korean security ally - but he did not make clear when the freeze would kick in.

US and South Korean 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 North Korean regime.

Pyongyang typically reacts furiously. Following drills last year, the North fired ballistic missiles over Japan, triggering global alarm.

VERIFIABLE DENUCLEARISATION?

Trump has sounded a triumphant tone since the Singapore summit, where he and Kim signed a joint statement in which Kim committed "to work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula."

But critics have pointed to the vague wording of the non-binding document, which Trump described as a "deal," and to concerns among allies about the decision to stop the US-South Korean "war games."

Speaking on a regional tour to brief South Korean, Japanese and Chinese officials about the historic summit, Pompeo said Washington remains committed to the "complete, verifiable and irreversible" denuclearisation of North Korea.

"We believe that Kim Jong Un understands the urgency ... that we must do this quickly," he said of the effort to have North Korea 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," Pompeo told Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi before talks with President Xi Jinping.

But, he warned, "there are still risks that we won't achieve" that goal, and more work needs to be done.

Speaking alongside Wang, 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 denuclearisation."

 

Agencies

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