Published: Tue, June 19, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Pentagon cancels Freedom Guardian military drill with South Korea

Pentagon cancels Freedom Guardian military drill with South Korea

Kim, who assumed power in 2011, did not visit China until March this year and paid a second visit to China in May as he was preparing for his meeting with Trump.

His latest visit was, unusually, reported by Chinese state media.

The report suggests that during the meeting with Xi and Chinese officials, Kim will discuss the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and potential negotiating strategies he might adopt in meeting with the USA moving forward.

South Korea said sanctions against the North could be eased once it takes "substantive steps towards denuclearisation", seemingly setting the bar lower than Washington for such a move.

The North's leader, who is believed to have landed in the Chinese capital Tuesday morning, met Xi at Beijing's ornate Great Hall of the People, according to state broadcaster CCTV. During their March meeting in Beijing, Xi told Kim that China had made a "strategic choice" to have friendly ties with North Korea and that they would "remain unchanged under any circumstances".

Kim has landed in Beijing for a two-day visit. The two men were accompanied by their wives.

Present-day Beijing's concerns with North Korea were not without substance.

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The fact that state media confirmed the North Korean leader's trip marks a new era in which Kim Jong Un is treated as any other world leader.

The US has long wanted China to use its influence with North Korea to end its nuclear weapons programme, but the relationship between the two superpowers is threatened by a deepening trade war.

Beijing is particularly pleased by Mr Trump's announcement to suspend military drills.

That follows a pledge made by Mr Trump at the Singapore summit.

The UN Security Council imposed a series of economic sanctions against North Korea after it conducted its first nuclear test in 2006, crippling Pyongyang.

China has sounded out Japan and South Korea to hold a trilateral summit again in December in Beijing, hoping to further ramp up cooperation to denuclearize North Korea, diplomatic sources said.

In addition to speculating that Chinese and Russian support for existing US -led sanctions against Pyongyang is likely to falter since Mr. Trump tweeted a day after meeting Mr. Kim that "there is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea", critics have seized on a lack of specifics in the joint statement. Picture taken through a window.

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Both China and Russian Federation have in the aftermath of that meeting called for global sanctions against North Korea to be loosened, though the USA has insisted that relief will only come when Pyongyang takes more substantive steps towards denuclearization. He said his understanding was that any suspension would involve only major military exercises and that regular training of us forces in South Korea would continue, although final decisions were up to the Department of Defense.

"Through close discussions with the United States, [the two countries] chose to suspend all of the planned activities regarding Freedom Guardian military drills", the South Korean Defence Ministry said in a statement.

The suspension of Ulchi-Freedom Guardian will not affect any Pacific exercises outside the Korean Peninsula, the Pentagon said, permitting the US military to continue training with Japan and other partners in the region.

Ms. White indicated there would be a meeting at the Pentagon this week between Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton.

The annual drills trace their origin back to Ulchi Exercises started in 1968 after a failed raid on the South Korean presidential palace by North Korean commandos.

After she left her position, it was also revealed that Rice requested the unmasking of the identities of some Americans mentioned in intelligence reports connected to the Trump presidential campaign and transition.

Mr. Trump has said he wants quick action after the achievement of a four-point joint statement at the summit committing to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the pursuit of improved relations between Washington and Pyongyang - potentially toward the lifting USA sanctions on North Korea.

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