U.S. reaf­firms its ‘iron­clad com­mit­ment’ to de­fend South Korea

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - NATION + WORLD - By Matthew Pen­ning­ton

WASH­ING­TON » Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis spoke on Satur­day with their South Korean coun­ter­parts af­ter the his­toric meet­ing be­tween lead­ers of the two Koreas, and Trump said “things are go­ing very well” as he pre­pares for an ex­pected sum­mit with the North’s Kim Jong Un.

Mat­tis and De­fense Min­is­ter Song Young-moo said they were com­mit­ted to “a diplo­matic res­o­lu­tion that achieves com­plete, ver­i­fi­able and ir­re­versible de­nu­cle­ariza­tion” of the North, ac­cord­ing to the Pen­tagon’s chief spokes­woman, Dana W. White. Mat­tis also reaf­firmed “the iron­clad U.S. com­mit­ment” to de­fend its ally “us­ing the full spec­trum of U.S. ca­pa­bil­i­ties. “

Trump tweeted Satur­day that he had “a long and very good talk” with Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in. He also said he up­dated Ja­pan’s prime min­is­ter, Shinzo Abe, about “the on­go­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions” for an an­tic­i­pated sum­mit with Kim, ten­ta­tively sched­uled for May or early June.

Moon and Kim have pledged to seek a for­mal end to the Korean War, fought from 1950 to 1953, by year’s end and to rid the Korean Peninsula of nu­clear weapons. Trump has said he’s look­ing for­ward to the meet­ing with Kim and that it “should be quite some­thing.”

“Things are go­ing very well, time and lo­ca­tion of meet­ing with North Korea is be­ing set,” Trump tweeted.

Trump is claim­ing credit for the Korean sum­mit, but now faces a bur­den in help­ing turn the Korean lead­ers’ bold but vague vi­sion for peace into re­al­ity af­ter more than six decades of hos­til­ity.

Trump must con­tend with sus­pi­cions about his own suit­abil­ity to conduct that kind of war-and-peace ne­go­ti­a­tion and suc­ceed where his pre­de­ces­sors have failed, and whether Kim re­ally is will­ing to give up the nu­clear weapons his na­tion took decades ac­quir­ing.

“It is still un­clear whether North Korea still be­lieves that it can have its cake and eat it too,” said Vic­tor Cha, who un­til Jan­uary had been in the run­ning to be­come Trump’s choice for am­bas­sador to South Korea.

At a White House news con­fer­ence with Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel on Fri­day, Trump basked in the af­ter­glow of the meet­ing be­tween Kim and Moon, and said he has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to try to achieve peace and de­nu­cle­ariza­tion.

“And if I can’t do it, it’ll be a very tough time for a lot of coun­tries, and a lot of peo­ple. It’s cer­tainly some­thing that I hope I can do for the world,” he said.

Moon and Kim have not spec­i­fied what steps would be taken to for­mally end the war or elim­i­nate nu­clear weapons. Now the pres­sure to de­liver re­sults, at least on the al­lies’ side, has shifted to Trump.

LEE JIN-MAN - THE AP

A man watches a TV screen in March show­ing file footages of U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, right, South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jaein, cen­ter, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, dur­ing a news pro­gram at the Seoul Rail­way Sta­tion in Seoul, South...

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