The Trump-Kim Jong Un summit looks like it’s on thin ice as N Korea flips on the US

17-May-2018 Intellasia | Business Insider | 6:00 AM Print This Post

The North Korean government threatened to cancel the impending summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un over ongoing joint military drills involving South Korea and the US, the Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency reported Tuesday.

According to the report, North Korea’s state-run news agency claimed the military exercises amounted to a rehearsal for an invasion, which has been a common complaint from the rogue state when such drills have occurred in the past.

Kim’s government warned the US will “have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea-US summit in light of this provocative military ruckus.”

The Korean Central News Agency, North Korea’s propaganda media outlet, later announced that it will reconsider holding a summit with Trump if the US insisted on scrapping the country’s nuclear programme.

North Korea also on Wednesday reportedly canceled a planned summit with South Korea because of the drills, known as Max Thunder.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry said the North’s decision to scuttle the planned meeting broke the spirit of their previous agreements: “It is regrettable that North Korea unilaterally postponed the South-North high-level meeting citing the annual joint [US-South Korean] air exercises as it does not correspond to the fundamental spirit and the purpose of the Panmunjom Declaration,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

Max Thunder began on May 11 and was set to last for two weeks. The military exercise occurs annually and involves US and South Korean aircraft and roughly 1,500 Air Force personnel.

The US Department of Defense hinted it wouldn’t back down on conducting the exercises.

“While we will not discuss specifics, the defensive nature of these combined exercises has been clear for many decades and has not changed,” said Col. Rob Manning, a DoD spokesman, in a statement.

The State Department was seemingly surprised by North Korea’s apparent threat to cancel the summit.

“We have no information on that,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We need to verify it.”

Meanwhile, the White House said it’s “aware” of the reports on North Korea’s alleged threats, adding, “The United States will look at what North Korea has said independently, and continue to coordinate closely with our allies.”

Trump’s summit with Kim, planned to focus on the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, is tentatively set for June 12 in Singapore.

In 2017, North Korea conducted a series of long-range missile tests, leading to a war of words between Trump and Kim. The tests also led the international community to issue harsh economic sanctions against Kim’s regime.

But North Korea shifted its tone and behavior in 2018, rekindling relations with South Korea and opening up the possibility for dialogue with the US.

Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a historic summit in late April in which they pledged to work toward ridding the Korean Peninsula of nukes and the formal cessation of the Korean War. The conflict has technically been ongoing since the fighting stopped via an armistice in 1953.

The summit’s cancellation would represent a major blow to Trump’s foreign-policy agenda.


Category: Korea

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