Featured image: President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, walk together to their one-on-one bilateral meeting, Tuesday, June 12, 2018, at the Capella Hotel in Singapore. (Official White House Photo by Stephanie Chasez)
Tuesday’s Singapore summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un has set the stage for the sharpening of disputes in the Asia-Pacific, particularly with China, despite the apparent relaxation of tensions.
During his press conference in Singapore, Trump mixed promises with veiled threats. He said crippling economic sanctions on North Korea would remain in place and there would be no reduction of the 32,000 US troops in South Korea—3,500 more than usually reported—notwithstanding his vague references to bringing the troops home.
the US “will be stopping the war games (with South Korea), which will save us a tremendous amount of money, unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should.”
Like his other statements, this nebulous promise can be easily abrogated, should Pyongyang fail to toe Washington’s line.
The declaration apparently caught US allies by surprise. South Korea’s presidential spokesman Kim Eui-gyeom said:
“For now, there still is a need to find out the exact meaning and intention of President Trump’s remarks.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in is scheduled to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Seoul on Thursday to discuss the summit. Pompeo will then head to Beijing.
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera opposed Trump’s proposal, saying:
“The US-South Korean exercises and US forces in South Korea play significant roles for the security of East Asia.”
The massive war games send a regular threatening message to China, which is the true target of US and Japanese aggression.
US Forces Korea seemed to be taken by surprise, saying:
“In coordination with our ROK [South Korean] partners, we will continue with our current military posture until we receive updated guidance from the Department of Defense and/or Indo-Pacific Command.”
China’s response gave a clearer indication of the developing conflict. A Tuesday op-ed in China’s state-owned Global Times insisted that if North Korea was no longer a “threat,” then “there will be no grounds for the US and South Korea to continue large-scale military drills and for Washington to maintain its military presence in South Korea.”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang stated:
“China has consistently held that sanctions are not the goal in themselves.
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