Trump plays games
Military exercises with South Korea back on agenda for US
US PRESIDENT Donald Trump is leaving open the possibility he could “instantly” restart war games with South Korea, after he suspended major drills as a goodwill gesture to North Korea.
In a series of tweets that primarily took aim at China, Mr Trump said yesterday that were the war games to resume, they would be “far bigger than ever before”.
He also blamed China for a lack of progress on getting North Korea to end its nuclear program, after the President’s landmark summit with Kim Jong-un in June.
But there was also a loaded message for Mr Kim: mixing an expression of goodwill to the North Korean leader with an implicit military threat.
“The President believes that his relationship with Kim Jong-un is a very good and warm one, and there is no reason at this time to be spending large amounts of money on joint US-South Korea war games,” said Mr Trump, citing what was presented as a White House statement.
On Tuesday, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said the US might carry out military exercises with South Korea next spring after having cancelled a major exercise this year. He said no decision had been made on when to resume exercises but suggested the cancellation might not be repeated.
Mr Trump caught military leaders by surprise in June, when he announced the suspension of exercises with the South “unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should”.
There was hope the gesture of shelving the exercises would help nudge the North in the denuclearisation talks. But beyond returning the potential remains of about 55 US soldiers, there has been little movement from the North.
The US last week shelved a trip to Pyongyang by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, citing lack of progress on getting the North to abandon its nuclear weapons.