US seeks to as­suage Asian al­lies


Cebu Daily News - - WORLD -

SEOUL, South Korea — The United States and its Asian al­lies worked Thurs­day to pa­per over any sem­blance of dis­agree­ment over Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s con­ces­sion to Kim Jong Un that the US would halt mil­i­tary ex­er­cises with South Korea, with Trump’s top diplo­mat in­sist­ing the pres­i­dent hadn’t backed down from his firm line on North Korea’s nukes.

US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo, meet­ing with top South Korean and Ja­panese diplo­mats, put a more sober spin on sev­eral moves by Trump af­ter his sum­mit with Kim that had fu­eled un­ease from Wash­ing­ton to Tokyo and Seoul. He said Trump’s curious claim that the North’s nu­clear threat was over was is­sued with “eyes wide open,” and brushed off a North Korean state-run me­dia re­port sug­gest­ing Trump would grant con­ces­sions even be­fore Py­ongyang fully rids it­self of nu­clear weapons.

“We’re go­ing to get de­nu­cle­ariza­tion,” Pom­peo said in the South Korean cap­i­tal. “Only then will there be re­lief from the sanc­tions.”

On the joint US-South Korea drills that Trump — af­ter meet­ing Kim — said would be ter­mi­nated, Pom­peo em­pha­sized a key caveat: If the mer­cu­rial North Korean leader stops ne­go­ti­at­ing in good faith, the “war games” will be back on.

The words of re­as­sur­ance from Pom­peo came as diplo­macy con­tin­ued at an in­tense pace in the days af­ter Tues­day’s sum­mit in Sin­ga­pore, the first be­tween a sit­ting Amer­i­can pres­i­dent and North Korea’s leader in six decades of hos­til­ity. In the vil­lage of Pan­munjom along the North-South border, the ri­val Koreas on Thurs­day held the first high-level mil­i­tary talks since 2007, fo­cused on re­duc­ing ten­sions across their heav­ily for­ti­fied border.

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