US re­as­sures its al­lies in Asia af­ter Trump sum­mit with Kim

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - World - Yash­want Raj yash­want.raj@hin­dus­tan­ ▪

WASH­ING­TON: US sec­re­tary of state Mike Pom­peo said his coun­try will re­sume “war games” with South Korea if North Korea was found to have stopped ne­go­ti­at­ing in “good faith”, adding that the lift­ing of UN sanc­tions on Py­ongyang was con­tin­gent upon its “com­plete de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion”.

On Tuesday, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump had stunned al­lies in Asia by an­nounc­ing an end to mil­i­tary drills with South Korea af­ter talks with Kim Jong Un in Sin­ga­pore, call­ing the ex­er­cises “provoca­tive”. Pom­peo walked that back some­what, telling re­porters that Trump “made it very clear that the con­di­tion prece­dent for the ex­er­cises not to pro­ceed was a pro­duc­tive, good-faith ne­go­ti­a­tions be­ing on­go­ing”.

Pom­peo added: “And at the point it’s con­cluded that they are not, the pres­i­dent’s com­mit­ment to not have those joint ex­er­cises take place will no longer be in ef­fect.”

As Trump and his team left for Wash­ing­ton, the Pom­peo stayed back in the re­gion in a pre-ar­ranged tour to brief al­lies such as South Korea and Ja­pan on the US pres­i­dent’s meet Kim.

At a news con­fer­ence with his Ja­panese and South Korean coun­ter­parts in Seoul, Pomepo also made clear the sanc­tions will re­main in place till North Korea de­nu­cle­arises com­pletely.

He said the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion will not re­peat the mis­takes made in the past — of “pro­vid­ing eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial re­lief be­fore the com­plete de­nu­cle­ariza­tion had taken place”.

But the US will find it dif­fi­cult to force all play­ers with stakes in the re­gion to ad­here to this se­quence.

China and Rus­sia have al­ready an­nounced plans to roll back their sanc­tions, and when asked specif­i­cally about it at a news brief­ing in Beijing, Chi­nese for­eign min­is­ter Wang Yi de­clined to an­swer.

There has been con­sid­er­able con­fu­sion about de­tails of agree­ments reached be­tween Trump and Kim, as the joint state­ment they signed was sparse and lack­ing in de­tails. No time­lines were spec­i­fied, for in­stance, for North Korea to de­nu­cle­arise. Trump’s freeze on mil­i­tary ex­er­cises with South Korea found no men­tion in the joint state­ment.

It’s Pom­peo’s brief now to work out the de­tails, walk back some of his boss’s tri­umphant rhetoric and re­as­sure al­lies.


▪ North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (right) walks with US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump dur­ing a break in talks at their sum­mit at the Capella Ho­tel on Sen­tosa is­land in Sin­ga­pore.


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