North Korea's Kim Jong-un in China for two-day visit

Frederick Owens
June 19, 2018

The US and South Korea on Monday agreed to suspend upcoming joint military exercises on the back of President Donald Trump's historic summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

Trump's comments come in the wake of a summit in Singapore with Kim Jong Un that Trump has cast as dramatically reducing the nuclear threat posed by North Korea despite no specific commitments about how it will eliminate its weapons.

In pledging to halt what Trump called the "wargames" during the Singapore Summit - even calling them "provocative" - the president appeared to have inadvertently given what Beijing had sought for a long time. Both Russia and China are on the record as saying they would like the freeze exercises, and North Korea has long complained about the maneuvers, calling them proof of US "ambition for military confrontation" against North Korea in a commentary on May 29.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is seen returning to North Korea after the summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, in this picture released on June 13, 2018 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency. Previously China would only confirm Kim had visited after he had left the country.

During a joint press conference with Pompeo, Wang said China would like the U.S. and North Korea to see the summit as "a new starting point" from which they can "maintain a momentum of dialogue and consultation, accommodate each other's legitimate concerns, and work with other parties to advance the process of denuclearisation and the political settlement of the peninsula issue". He did not elaborate.

But Yun Sen, an expert on North Korea at the Stimson Center, told Business Insider that ahead of the Trump-Kim China was likely trying to make sure it could retain that power.

Roads near the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, where senior Chinese officials meet with visiting leaders, were being closed and a motorcade with motorcycle escorts was seen heading into the compound.

Outside the east gate of the Great Hall, where foreign leaders are officially welcomed, authorities had erected a screen running the full length of the road, cutting off the view.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday that his government would need to be flexible when it came to applying military pressure on North Korea if it was honest about denuclearisation.

"Our government hopes China will play a constructive role in resolving this problem", spokesperson Noh Kyu-deok told a regular briefing. "It may be hard for Kim Jong Un to accept", Hua told AFP.

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Kim's visit to Beijing, while expected, is one way for China to highlight its crucial role in US efforts to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear program. "No decisions on subsequent wargames have been made".

Chinese President Xi Jinping walks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a meeting in May in Dalian, a city in China's northeastern Liaoning Province.

South Koreans stage a protest near the US embassy in Seoul about the cessation of South Korean-US military exercises.

Trump also touched on a few other subjects Sunday morning, including the viral photo shared by German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the G7 summit which depicted her staring down the U.S. President.

The decision to halt military exercises in South Korea has bewildered many current and former US defense officials, who only learned about it when Trump announced it in Singapore, after the summit with Kim.

"I understand that if North Korea stops negotiating with good will, the joint drills will resume", he said.

Japanese Minister of Defence Itsunori Onodera said the decision to suspend the U.S. In 2017, the annual exercise involved 17,500 U.S. service members with 3,000 coming from outside South Korea. Yonhap said, however, that some joint training would continue.

"There remains hard work" and "difficult days" in denuclearisation negotiations with North Korea, Pompeo had said.

A spokesman for South Korea's defense ministry confirmed the decision, saying Seoul had agreed with Washington to suspend the August exercises.

Even better for China would be the USA reducing troop levels on the Korean Peninsula.

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