President Donald Trump's decision to suspend military exercises with South Korea puts a key pillar of the seven-decade-old defense relationship between the countries on hold and fulfills a longstanding desire by both North Korea and China to undermine the US military role in the region.
He said Tuesday's meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un was a lovely moment between two good friends. Sure, he comes across as someone with issues - but he's well-intentioned and has a better understanding of both Kim and Trump on a personal level than many other people.
Moon Seong Mook, a former South Korean military official, said Trump's comments on the drills confirmed what many in South Korea had feared all along - that North Korea would attempt to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul and gain substantial concessions from an unconventional USA president who thinks much less of the traditional alliance than his predecessors.
The Australian government has cast doubt over whether Donald Trump has suspended military exercises with South Korea, noting that was not part of the joint declaration between the United States and North Korea.
At a lunch with Republican senators on Tuesday, however, Pence said that exercises will continue - according to Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colorado), a frequent critic of Trump.
Although the Pentagon said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was consulted ahead of time, current and former US defense officials expressed concern at the possibility that the United States would unilaterally halt military exercises without an explicit concession from North Korea lowering the threat from Pyongyang.
"It is surely a historical moment that we all wanted to see, but I think it is still early to launch related products celebrating the historical moment of the two leaders", an industry insider told The Korea Herald.
Pompeo is scheduled to immediately fly to Seoul and Beijing after the summit to brief South Korean allies and Chinese officials on the discussions, reflecting the reality than any solutions in the region will need buy-in from those nations.
USA officials and the North Korean state news agency struck a hopeful tone as the meeting approached, while negotiators from both countries met privately in the last hours to iron out agreements, such as over the definition of denuclearisation and the terms under which Pyongyang might agree to dismantle its nuclear arsenal. "That's the portrayal, their image". USA officials believe that harsh sanctions have been instrumental in the "maximum pressure campaign" to bring Kim to the negotiating table. A favored USA slogan in South Korea is "ready to fight tonight".
"Stopping the joint exercises has been a long-term goal for North Korea and China", two Asia analysts, Victor Cha and Sue Mi Terry, wrote in a summit assessment for the Center for Strategic and International Studies. -South Korean military exercises "provocative". Another exercise - Key Resolve - followed with more than 12,000 US troops and 10,000 South Korean personnel.
The next big drill on the U.S. -South Korean calendar - Ulchi Freedom Guardian - is scheduled for late August.
Trump disclosed no cost for the exercises, and the Pentagon did not respond to requests for that information Tuesday morning. Last year, it involved about 17,500 USA service members, drawing in 3,000 from outside South Korea.
U.S. Forces in Korea "has received no updated guidance on execution or cessation of training exercises", said USFK spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Jennifer Lovett, Reuters reported.