South Korea and the United States are expected to announce the suspension of “large-scale” military drills this week, with the provision that they would restart if North Korea failed to keep its promise to denuclearize, news agency Yonhap said on Sunday.
Citing an unnamed government source, the South Korean news agency said the suspension was likely to affect only major joint exercises, not more routine military training.
U.S. President Donald Trump surprised officials in Seoul and Washington when he pledged to end “war games” after his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore last week.
Immediately after the announcement, U.S. forces in Korea said they had received no guidance on stopping any drills, and South Korean officials said they were trying to figure out which exercises Trump was referring to.
However, in a sign Seoul may be open to suspending drills, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday his government would need to be flexible when it came to applying military pressure on North Korea if it was sincere about denuclearization.
Moon said South Korea would carefully consider joint military drills with the United States and he asked his officials to cooperate with the United States on the issue, his office said in a statement at the time.
Yonhap also reported on Sunday that during military talks between the two Koreas on Thursday, South Korean officials asked their northern counterparts to relocate artillery 30 to 40 kilometers away from the heavily fortified military demarcation line that divides the two countries.
The South’s defense ministry denied it made such a request, Yonhap said.
The talks, the first in more than a decade, held in the border village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone (DMZ), followed an inter-Korean summit in April at which leaders of the two Koreas agreed to defuse tensions and cease “all hostile acts”.
North and South Korea failed to reach any concrete agreement during those talks, officials said.
North Korea proposed to Seoul to disarm, on a trial basis, the Joint Security Area in Panmunjom, the only site in the DMZ where both countries’ soldiers stand almost face to face, the South’s presidential spokesman said on Friday.
About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea, a legacy of the Korean War, which ended in 1953 in an armistice that left the two Koreas technically still at war.
At a Senate hearing on Thursday, Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to South Korea, retired Admiral Harry Harris, backed the idea of a “pause” in major military exercises. He said his understanding was that any suspension would involve only major military exercises and that regular training of U.S. forces in South Korea would continue, although final decisions were up to the Department of Defense.
The U.S.-South Korean exercise calendar hits a high point every year with the Foal Eagle and Max Thunder drills, which both wrapped up last month.
The next major drill, Ulchi Freedom Guardian, is planned for the end of the summer.
Last year, 17,500 American and more than 50,000 South Korean troops participated in the Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills, although the exercise is mostly focused on computerized simulations rather than live field exercises that use weapons, tanks or aircraft.
With each passing day Trump’s spin is less capable of distracting Americans from reality: op-ed
Writing in the Washington Post this Monday, Paul Waldman says that if you want to know the sorry state President Trump's campaign is in, just look at its deteriorating spin machine.
The first example cited by Waldman was Trump's recent attack on his usually supportive top infectious disease expert, Dr. Deborah Birx, for daring to say that the virus' spread isn't going away any time soon. Waldman also listed the numerous statements from Trump that downplay the threat of the virus while pushing the misleading claim that things are just fine.
Trump openly solicits payment to US treasury for his ‘approval’ of TikTok sale – which he is forcing
President Donald Trump says he is allowing Microsoft to purchase the U.S. assets of the popular Beijing-based TikTok social media video sharing app, in a sale Trump personally is forcing.
In discussing what he sees as the broad portions of an agreement the President used a real estate term to openly solicit the payment that would have to be made to the U.S. Treasury.
"I said a very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the U.S. Treasury of the United States, because we're making it possible for this deal to happen," Trump told reporters Monday afternoon.
Andrew Cuomo rips Trump like never before: ‘This was the worst government blunder in modern history’
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) on Monday accused President Donald Trump of presiding over "the worse government blunder in modern history."
At his daily COVID-19 briefing, Cuomo said that it was time for the president to hit the "reset button" on his handling of the pandemic.
"If we don't tell the truth on the reset, COVID will never end," the New York governor explained. "It will ricochet across the country. It will just bounce back and forth."
"This was a colossal blunder -- how COVID was handled by this federal government," he continued. "Shame on all of you. Six months, lives lost. Hit the reset button, yes."