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Pentagon Calls Off Major Annual Military Exercise With South Korea

Pentagon Calls Off Major Annual Military Exercise With South Korea

US and South Korean officials confirmed Tuesday the suspension of scheduled joint military drills, making good on a pledge by President Donald Trump during his summit with North Korea's leader.

Kim's trip follows his groundbreaking summit with President Donald Trump in Singapore last week that resulted in a surprise announcement of a USA suspension of military drills with its South Korean ally.

Kim reportedly took an Air Koryo flight to Beijing, and headed straight to the Diaoyutai state guest house, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

Trump agreed to work with Kim toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, committed to provide the North with security guarantees and pledged to end "war games" with South Korea, which North Korea and China have long seen as provocative.

"It is unprecedented for a foreign leader to visit China three times in three months, but the unusual arrangement [reflects] it is a special moment for the Korean peninsula", he said.

Kim is expected to be received by Xi in Beijing. He will meet with Xi Jinping to discuss the status of talks with the U.S., and the recent trade-off of suspensions in military actions on the Korean Peninsula will be on the agenda.

North Korea's plan to prioritise economic development over nuclear weapons emerged in April, when Kim said he wanted to move away from the byungjin policy, which put the two on a par.

While announcing the halt of South Korean and U.S. military exercises, Trump has been maintaining that the sanctions will remain.

The U.S. has stationed combat troops in South Korea since the Korean War, in which China fought on North Korea's side and which ended in 1953 with an armistice and no peace treaty.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un visits The Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore, June 11, 2018.

Earlier, Kang had said that sanctions against North Korea could be eased as soon as it takes "substantive steps towards denuclearization", seemingly setting the bar lower than Washington.

Kim "felt thanks for and highly praised China's promotion of denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and its important role in protecting the peninsula's peace and stability", state-run CCTV said.

"I think that North Korea can be another card Beijing can play to win leverage in negotiations with Washington", Yang Moo-jin, professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, told AFP. The U.S. millitary's strength dwarfs North Korea's.

Before conducting nuclear weapons tests, before even building facilities create fissile material, North Korea established a strong deterrent against South Korea and the USA - artillery.

For his part, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang parried several questions on Kim's visit and its objective saying details will be released in a timely manner. Previous visits by North Korean leaders have been shrouded in secrecy and confirmed only after their departure.

Sun also said that when it comes down to ensuring economic sanctions stay in place, the USA seems to want China, along with Japan and South Korea, to do the "heavy lifting".

Accounts in South Korean media differ over who exactly proposed the latest measure, but it came at a general-level military dialogue, which hadn't happened for over a decade before.

"South Korea and the USA plan to continue discussions for further measures", South Korea's defence ministry said, adding that "no decisions have been reached for other ensuing drills".

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