The United States and South Korea will begin small-scale military drills on Monday that were delayed during talks with North Korea, days after Pyongyang threatened to restart work on its nuclear program if international pressure does not ease.
The Korean Marine Exchange Program was among the training drills that were indefinitely suspended in June after U.S. President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore and promised to end joint, U.S.-South Korea military exercises often criticized by the North.
A spokesman for South Korea’s Ministry of Defence confirmed a round of training would begin near the southern city of Pohang, with no media access expected.
About 500 American and South Korean marines will participate in the maneuvers, the Yonhap news agency reported.
In Washington last week, South Korea’s defense minister said Washington and Seoul would make a decision by December on major joint military exercises for 2019. Vigilant Ace, suspended earlier this month, is one of several such exercises that have been halted to encourage dialogue with Pyongyang.
The biggest combat-readiness war game ever staged in and around Japan has gone ahead, however, with nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan joining Japanese destroyers and a Canadian warship in the ocean off Japan — another key player in the effort to pressure North Korea.
North Korea warned on Friday that it could restart development of its nuclear program if the United States does not drop its campaign of “maximum pressure” and sanctions.
“The improvement of relations and sanctions are incompatible,” a foreign ministry official said in a statement released through state-run KCNA news agency. “The U.S. thinks that its oft-repeated ‘sanctions and pressure’ lead to ‘denuclearization.’ We cannot help laughing at such a foolish idea.”
North Korea has not tested a ballistic missile or nuclear weapon for nearly a year, and has said it has shuttered its main nuclear test site with plans to dismantle several more facilities.
In recent weeks, North Korea has pressed more sharply for what it sees as reciprocal concessions by the United States and other countries.
“As shown, the U.S. is totally to blame for all the problems on the Korean peninsula including the nuclear issue and therefore, the very one that caused all those must untie the knot it made,” Friday’s statement said.
American officials have remained skeptical of Kim’s commitment to give up the nuclear arsenal he has already amassed, however, and Washington says it won’t support easing international sanctions until more verified progress is made. [nL3N1X92DG]
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, meanwhile, has forged ahead with efforts to engage with North Korea in recent months, raising U.S. concerns that Seoul could weaken pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.
Iran accuses foreign forces of raising Gulf ‘insecurity’ — but doesn’t mention Trump by name
President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday denounced the presence of foreign forces in the Gulf and said Iran will present a peace plan, after its arch-foe Washington ordered reinforcements to the tense region.
"Foreign forces can cause problems and insecurity for our people and for our region," Rouhani said before a military parade commemorating the Iran-Iraq war.
Rouhani also said Iran would present a peace plan to the United Nations within days.
"In this sensitive and important historical moment, we announce to our neighbours that we extend the hand of friendship and brotherhood to them," he said.
Trump holds mass rally with Indian Prime Minister that was more like a campaign event than official one
US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday declared themselves united in a relentless fight against "terrorism," vowing a close, personal alliance in front of tens of thousands of Indian-Americans.
The two leaders, like-minded nationalists fond of fiery rallies and skeptical of traditional media, heaped praise on each other in an unusual joint appearance inside a football stadium in Houston.
To the bhangra beats of four drummers in saffron turbans, Trump in his dark suit and Modi in a yellow kurta and vest made a grand entrance with arms clenched together to ecstatic cheers from a crowd estimated by organizers at 50,000.
Here’s how the law governing whistleblowers applies to the Trump Ukraine complaint
This week it was revealed that President Donald Trump did something so concerning that an intelligence staffer felt the need to report the incident and file for whistleblower protections.
Trump asked Ukraine to look into scandals about former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter. For nearly a year, Trump's former attorney Rudy Giuliani was admittedly working to persuade officials in Ukraine to find "dirt" on the Bidens that they could use in the election. While the accusations against the younger Biden have been disproven, it's suspected, but not confirmed, that this was the incident detailed in the complaint.