Trump plays games

Mil­i­tary ex­er­cises with South Korea back on agenda for US

Warwick Daily News - - WORLD -

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.

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