Korean leader arrives in Pyongyang after Trump summit

Blanche Robertson
June 13, 2018

Pompeo, traveling in Seoul after two days in Singapore for President Donald Trump's historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, declined to offer further clarity on a timetable for Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear program, a step Trump said this week that he believes North Korea is willing to negotiate towards.

But the future remains uncertain - the USA and North Korea did not reach any agreement on the details of how to achieve or verify that denuclearization.

About 29,000 United States soldiers are based in the South, under a security agreement reached after the war ended in 1953.

There are usually two sets of exercises every year, in spring and autumn, involving a massive number of troops and military hardware.

North Korea is believed to possess more than 50 nuclear warheads, with its atomic program spread across more than 100 sites constructed over decades to evade global inspections.

Pukguksong-2's development raised concerns in South Korea because solid-fuel missiles are much easier to move and launch on short notice compared to weapons using liquid fuel.

Just how much was achieved, though, is in question, because of the suspicions that emerged later that North Korea had been secretly seeking to enrich uranium.

The drills went ahead in April instead.

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Japan's defence chief said on Wednesday that the USA military presence in South Korea and joint military exercises were "vital" for East Asian security. "We have no intention of changing our joint drills with the US", Itsunori Onodera said. -South Korea joint military exercises that take place every year. You know, we did sanctions and all the things you would do but I think without the rhetoric, you know, other administrations, I don't want to get specific on that, but you know they had a policy of silence. The US military in Asia remains vital to that task.

Before the unexpected thaw between Pyongyang and the US, North Korea had repeatedly threatened to target US troops in the region.

"Before taking office people were assuming that we were going to War with North Korea", Trump tweeted Wednesday.

"So that's good for a number of reasons, in addition to which we save a tremendous amount of money", Mr Trump said.

In reality, the likelihood of war has diminished only slightly - let's say from very unlikely to very, very unlikely. At a routine media briefing on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang welcomed the summit's achievements.

The POTUS' remarks came as a big surprise to South Korea, which said on Tuesday that Washington has not reached out to them to discuss halting the military drills.

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. The five-hour summit did give Trump and Kim a chance to express optimism and make of show of their new relationship.

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