Trump's vow to end military drills with South Korea stuns a region

Blanche Robertson
June 13, 2018

North Korea's "CVID", or complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization, had been the key goal for the Trump administration, leading up to the historic summit with North Korea, and its leader Kim Jong-un.

"I mean, this is what we have, and this is where we are, and I can only tell you from my experience, and I met him, I've spoken with him, and I've met him", Trump said.

"This is their life and their future", she said.

"I think without the rhetoric we wouldn't have been here".

US President Donald Trump (2nd R) and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un (2nd L) sign documents.

"The greatest achievement of the summit was that Trump's comments show his confidence in resolving any issues [with Kim]", Nam said in a brief meeting with a small group of reporters in Singapore.

Trump's surprise, nearly offhand comments, made during a news conference after his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, seemingly upended decades of the U.S. defense posture on the Korean Peninsula.

The US side seeks denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula under terms that give US and worldwide authorities broad power to inspect nuclear reactors in North Korea at any time they choose to verify parts of a potential denuclearization agreement.

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While many North Korea experts and defectors welcome the ease in tensions between the US and North Korea, they faulted Trump for overtly praising an authoritarian leader and failing to bring up human rights violations within North Korea.

"If people didn't think the president was focused on human rights, they wouldn't be asking for his help", added co-host Harris Faulkner. "Was he committing to end all military exercises or was he committing to end just the most provocative ones?"

If the country did something "very bad and very threatening and terrible", then past presidents wouldn't react, Trump commented during the interview that followed his Singapore summit with Kim.

Since the 1970s, the United States and South Korea have held a major summertime exercise called Ulchi Freedom Guardian that involves tens of thousands of troops.

But Daniel Davis, a retired army lieutenant colonel and fellow at the Defense Priorities military think tank, said suspending the drills would have no short-term impact on USA and South Korean military readiness.

Trump speaks to Kim as the pair prepare to begin their closed-door talks.

"What is most troubling about all this is that the US gave up something tangible, namely, US-RoK military exercises, in exchange", he added, using the abbreviation for South Korea's official name.

U.S. Air Force Airmen watch an F-16 Fighting Falcon take off during Exercise MAX THUNDER 17's media day at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, April 20, 2017.

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