Can­cel­la­tion of war games alarms US al­lies

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

SEOUL: US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s sur­prise de­ci­sion to sus­pend joint war games with South Korea, which ap­peared to take Seoul and the Amer­i­can mil­i­tary by sur­prise, con­tin­ued to cre­ate con­fu­sion and alarm yes­ter­day.

Trump made the an­nounce­ment fol­low­ing his sum­mit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Sin­ga­pore on Tues­day, though the move was not in­cluded in the lead­ers’ agree­ment.

The mil­i­tary ex­er­cises have long been re­garded by the North as a provo­ca­tion and their can­cel­la­tion was widely re­garded as a ma­jor con­ces­sion by the US.

The US De­fence Depart­ment later re­as­sured al­lies, with spokesman Dana White say­ing: “Our al­liances re­main iron­clad.”

Ja­pan ex­pressed con­cern over the move, with de­fence min­is­ter It­sunori On­odera say­ing the ex­er­cises played “an im­por­tant role for the se­cu­rity of East Asia” and adding that Tokyo would con­tinue to put pres­sure on Py­ongyang over its nu­clear pro­gramme.

“We would like to ask North Korea to make pol­icy changes in a vis­i­ble way.”

South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae In’s spokesman said late on Tues­day that Seoul needed to clar­ify the “mean­ing and in­tent” of the com­ments by Trump, who also said he even­tu­ally wanted to bring US troops sta­tioned in South Korea home.

United States Forces Korea said in a state­ment it had re­ceived “no up­dated guid­ance” on the reg­u­lar mil­i­tary ex­er­cises in the re­gion, in­clud­ing for ex­er­cises dubbed Ulchi Free­dom Guardian, sched­uled to take place in Au­gust.

Mean­while, in its first re­port­ing on the out­come of the talks, North Korean staterun news wire KCNA por­trayed the Sin­ga­pore sum­mit as a win for Kim that would “re­main long in his­tory”.

The agency also said that Trump and Kim had “gladly ac­cepted” mu­tual in­vi­ta­tions to visit each other’s coun­tries.

Fol­low­ing the sum­mit on Tues­day, Trump told re­porters he would like to visit the North Korean cap­i­tal Py­ongyang “at the ap­pro­pri­ate time,” and that Kim would “ab­so­lutely” be in­vited to the White House.

He also said that eco­nomic sanc­tions would not im­me­di­ately be lifted.

On his way back to Washington, he tweeted that the world had “taken a big step back from po­ten­tial nu­clear catas­tro­phe”. – dpa

... Ac­tivists sim­u­late be­ing dead out­side the Capi­tol Build­ing in Washington on Tues­day to mark the sec­ond an­niver­sary of the Pulse Night­club shoot­ing where a gun­man killed 49 peo­ple in Or­lando.

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