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Trump says U.S. will end joint drills in Korea while talks with DPRK ongoing, By Hamish Macdonald and Oliver Hotham
In press conference following summit, President describes exercises as “provocative”
The United States will end its annual joint military exercises with South Korea while diplomacy with North Korea continues, President Donald Trump said on Tuesday. Speaking at an hour-long press conference in Singapore following the signing of a joint statement with Kim Jong Un, the U.S. President said it would be “inappropriate” for the drills to take place while talks with the DPRK were ongoing.
The U.S. has consistently reiterated its position that joint U.S.-ROK military exercises are “defensive in nature” and necessary as a deterrent against North Korean provocations.
The President on Tuesday, however, described the exercises as “war games,” and complained about their cost.“We will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money,” the President said, later saying they were “very provocative, it’s a very provocative situation.”“Under the circumstances, it’s inappropriate to be having war games.”
The U.S. and South Korea typically hold a number of joint military drills a year, including Foal Eagle/Key Resolve (FE/KR) and Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG), among others.
The two were set to start UFG in August – though earlier in the month South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) said they would refrain from excessive publicity of the drill.
Those comments, however, also saw the MND firmly rule out any cancellation of the exercises.North Korea typically denounces the joint drills as aggressive and part of preparations for an invasion of the DPRK. It appeared on Tuesday that the U.S.’s main partner in these drills, South Korea, was not informed in advance of their cancellation.
“At this time, need clarification of the precise meaning and intention behind President Trump’s remarks,” a spokesperson for the ROK MND said in a statement.Speaking to Stars and Stripes on Tuesday, a spokesperson for U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) said that the military had received “no updated guidance on execution or cessation of training exercises” including for the UFG drills.
“In coordination with our partners, we will continue with our current military posture until we receive updated guidance from the Department of Defense … and/or Indo-Pacific Command,” the outlet reported Col. Jennifer Lovett as saying via email.
North Korea to work towards denuclearization in exchange for security guarantees, By NK News
In broad agreement signed in Singapore, Kim and Trump also agree to improve diplomatic relations
The leaders of North Korea and the U.S. on Tuesday in Singapore signed a joint declaration reaffirming Pyongyang’s commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and committing Washington to security guarantees in return.
The agreement came in a broad statement signed following several hours of talks between DPRK leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.
“President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” it reads.
No further details are given about the exact nature of these security guarantees.
Kim Jong Un previously committed to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in April’s Panmunjom Declaration, signed by the North Korean leader and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
The statement also sees the two leaders “consent to establish new U.S.-DPRK relations” to “join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.”
The statement commits both sides to negotiations led by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and “the relevant high-level DPRK official” at “the earliest possible date” to work on implementing the outcomes of Tuesday’s agreement.
Kim and Trump have also agreed to work together on the recovery of remains of soldiers from both sides who died in the Korean war.
“The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains including the immediate repatriation of those already identified,” it reads
The statement follows hours of talks between Kim and Trump, which began at 0900 local time and was held at the Capella Hotel on Singapore’s Sentosa Island.
Tuesday’s statement, notably, contains no references to complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization (CVID) – long a key U.S. demand going into talks with Pyongyang.
Monday saw Secretary of State Pompeo tell press that the U.S. would not accept a deal with Pyongyang that did not see the North firmly commit to dismantling its nuclear program.
But today’s statement only sees North Korea reaffirm its previous commitments to the “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” – something DPRK leaders also agreed to in 2007 and 2010.
One expert told MHI–NK News that he believed Tuesday’s agreement had “zero practical value.”
U.S. will ensure “robust” verification of North Korean denuclearization: Pompeo, By Oliver Hotham
Ahead of historic summit, Secretary of State says sanctions will remain until CVID takes place
The U.S. will not make the mistakes of the past and will ensure that a “robust” mechanism is set up to establish North Korea’s complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization (CVID), Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told press on Monday.
Speaking to press at the U.S. Television Pool press center in Singapore on the eve of a historic meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Pompeo also insisted that CVID remained the only outcome his country would accept.
“Many Presidents have signed off on pieces of paper only to find out the North Koreans didn’t promise what we thought they had or that they reneged on their promises,” the Secretary of State said, adding that the “verification” element of CVID was all-important.
“We are going to ensure that we set up a system sufficiently robust that we are able to verify these outcomes, and it’s only once the ‘v’ happens that we’ll proceed apace,” he continued.
“At the end of the day both countries are going to need to come to have sufficient trust in each other in order to verify that we will provide the things that we commit to in the various documents that we sign.”
Any agreement with the North made in the coming days, the Secretary of State said, would have to see Pyongyang accept CVID – the “only” outcome the U.S. would accept.
“Sanctions will remain until North Korea completely and verifiably eliminates its weapons of mass destruction program,” he continued. “If diplomacy does not move in the right direction – and we are hopeful it will continue to do so – those measures will increase.”
But in an apparent opening to Kim Jong Un, Pompeo also said that the U.S. President “recognizes” the North Korean leader’s need for security guarantees before CVID can take place.
And ahead of any North Korean denuclearization, Pompeo continued, the U.S. was willing to “make the security assurances necessary for the North Koreans to engage in that denuclearization.”
Donald Trump says he would “absolutely” invite Kim Jong Un to Washington DC, By Oliver Hotham
Comments follow signing of agreement expected to be released soon
U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he would “absolutely” invite DPRK leader Kim Jong Un to Washington DC, following the signing of a joint agreement on Tuesday.
Details on what exactly has been decided remain unclear and are expected to emerge in the next hour or so.
In a joint signing following several hours of talks between the two Koreas, President Trump said the agreement would result in a “great change” in the two countries’ relations.
“I think our whole relationship with North Korea and the Korean peninsula is going to be a much different situation than it has in the past,” the President said. “We both want to do something, we both are going to do something.”
Both sides would be impressed with the agreement, Trump continued, saying he had developed “a very special bond” with Kim.
In response to a question from a reporter, the President also said he would “absolutely” invite Kim Jong Un to Washington DC.
The DPRK leader did not respond when asked if he would accept.
Kim Jong Un then said the document would represent “a new start at the historic meeting while leaving the past behind.”
“The world will see a major change,” he said. “I express my gratitude toward President Trump who has strived for today’s meeting.”
Following the signing, Trump said he had learned that the North Korean leader is a “very talented man” and that he “loves his country very much.”
In response to a question on whether North Korea would begin denuclearization soon, the President said “We’re starting that process very quickly, very very quickly, absolutely.”
The two men emerged at 1338 local time to sign the document, followed by officials from both sides.
Malaysia will reopen embassy in North Korea: PM, By Leo Byrne
Malaysian Prime Minister added the two countries should improve trade
Malaysia’s once-close ties with North Korea were severely downgraded after Kim Jong Nam was killed at a Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017 when two women smeared his face with VX nerve agent, which the United Nations lists as a weapon of mass destruction.
During their trial which is ongoing, the women said they were tricked into believing they were part of a reality show and did not know they were handling poison.
The United States and South Korea have said the murder was orchestrated by Pyongyang.
After Kim Jong Nam’s death, North Korea’s ambassador to Malaysia questioned the credibility of the police probe and insisted he was an ordinary citizen who died of a heart attack.
Malaysia then recalled its ambassador to North Korea, banned its citizens from travelling to the North and cancelled visa-free entry for North Koreans.
North Korea retaliated with a travel ban on all Malaysians in Pyongyang, trapping three diplomats and six family members.
They were able to fly out only after Malaysia agreed to hand over Kim Jong Nam’s corpse and send three North Koreans wanted for questioning back to North Korea.
Malaysia’s embassy in Pyongyang has not been staffed since April last year, and the government was considering permanently closing it and moving services to its Beijing mission.
In the interview published a day before the Singapore summit between Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump, Mahathir said he hoped both sides were ready to give ground.
“North Korea has a right to have some of its own interests (upheld), as much as the US has its own interests to take care of in any negotiation,” Mahathir said.”We shouldn’t be skeptical. When you (are suspicious), then you cannot work with people,” he added.
Moon will not travel to Singapore during DPRK-U.S. summit: ROK official, By Dagyum Ji
ROK President visit before summit success is guaranteed would be presumptuous, official says
The South Korean President will not visit Singapore during a planned DPRK-U.S. summit, a senior official at the Presidential office said a briefing held in Singapore on Monday, amid reports that the three sides could use the historic meeting to declare an end to the Korean War.
The senior official at the Blue House — who wished to remain anonymous — said that doing so would suggest that a summit agreement between Pyongyang and Washington was a done deal.
Many South Korean outlets have in the last few days reported the possibility of a trilateral summit between the U.S. and the two Koreas on the sidelines of this week’s Kim-Trump meeting.Some had also speculated that South Korea could use the Kim-Trump meeting to have the three sides declare a formal end to the Korean War – a key agreement in April’s Panmunjom Declaration.
Speaking at a closed-door press briefing held at the Seoul-run Korea Press Center, the official said that due to the intense negotiations between the North and the U.S. ahead of the Tuesday summit, the plan would not be feasible.
“If President Moon said he would come here to declare an end to war before the North-U.S. summit is held, it would, from the U.S. perspective, be like showing an entire answer sheet,” the official said.“One side can’t make an act of showing the answer while others are in war of nerves.”
The senior official said Seoul could have decided to go ahead with a visit at “the very last minute,” but reiterated the Moon administration would not rush the signing of a peace treaty.
Seoul does believe, they added, that it will be possible to achieve the goal “at any time” if a favorable environment emerges from the DPRK-U.S. summit.
The two Koreas agreed to pursue trilateral meetings – or quadrilateral meetings involving China – “with a view to declaring an end to the War” on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the Armistice on July 27 in the Panmunjom Declaration signed by Moon and Kim in April.
Kim Jong Un takes surprise night-time tour of Singapore, By NK News
DPRK leader tours riverside in city’s luxurious downtown
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un left his hotel in central Singapore on Monday night for an impromptu tour of the city.
He is reportedly accompanied by his sister Kim Yo Jong, first vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), vice-chairman of the WPK Central Committee Ri Su Yong, and others.
Local media the Straits Times earlier in the day reported that Kim would take a small city tour of Singapore.
The North Korean leader was expected to stop by Marina Bay Sands’ SkyPark, the Esplanade Bridge among other locations, the newspaper added.
Monday saw Singaporean foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan upload a selfie with Kim Jong Un on Twitter with the message, “Jalan Jalan” – which means ‘walk’ in Malay – and “guess where we were.”
Reports of the planned visit to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel were confirmed when media captured Kim surrounded by dozens of bodyguards entering the hotel around 2200 local time.
How a trusted advisor might recommend Kim Jong Un approach CVID with Trump, By Tal Inbar
Tal Inbar considers what suggestions an advisor might recommend with an eye at keeping nukes
How might North Korea have been preparing to evidence its commitment towards denuclearization in a way that will credibly convince the United States this week in Singapore?
To get a sense for some of the things that might be going through decision makers’ minds in Pyongyang, Tal Inbar – head of the Space and UAV Research Center at Israel’s Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies – presents a fictional account of how a trusted advisor to Kim Jong Un might recommend how to proceed.
After greetings and salutations, the Marshals, Generals and special strategists assembled and Kim opened the discussion.
On the agenda? What to do with North Korea’s nuclear weapons, infrastructure, and ballistic missiles, considering the rapidly approaching summit with the United States.
“Dear Supreme Leader, Marshal Kim” I started.
“What is discussed here today will have profound implications for the future of our beloved country. The question of how to approach President Trump is existential to us all”.
“First, we must understand that the current U.S. president can be totally unpredictable. He can change his mind in an instant, and as far as we know, he is ill-prepared for meetings and discussions, and neither reads national intelligence estimates nor briefing papers.
“Nevertheless, he is extremely intelligent, and could come up with surprising ideas, so it is recommended that the Supreme Leader be aware of this and be cautious of surprises.
“Second, the question we must be prepared for relates to what the U.S. president will ask from us. This is in light of the fact we have already offered several confidence-building measures to the Americans: we released three of its nationals from prison, we demolished our Northern Nuclear Test Site (in the presence of international media) and you, Supreme Leader, met twice with the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“So, while we come to the meeting having taken sincere and major steps to please the U.S., will it be enough for Trump?,” I asked.
“I don’t think so. He will be pushing us to give him more because Trump must achieve something dramatic as an outcome of the Singapore meeting.”
Thinking through what Trump would likely insist on most, I warned that the U.S. would insist on Complete, Verifiable and Irreversible Dismantlement (CIVD) of the DPRK to be its principal goal.
But in light of our multiple concessions this year, I cautioned that going further could be dangerous.
“We have learned from some media reports and by our own means that the idea of sending some nuclear warheads out of DPRK for storage and dismantlement in another country might be on the U.S. agenda in Singapore.
“But by fully dismantling this capability, we may no longer be able to defend our beloved homeland! So, I must advise against any move towards totally dismantling our nuclear warhead inventory.
“However, as a confidence-building measure, we could send several small bombs, and several kilograms of plutonium overseas as an exceptional gesture of our goodwill.”
A problem would likely continue to relate to our missiles.
“They will almost certainly complain about our immense and potent missile forces. But I should warn that any Iraqi-style inspection and dismantling process will be devastating for our national might in the long run.
That said, I suggested to my Supreme Leader that we might be able to offer some limited steps that the U.S. would like and that will also benefit us.
“We could follow something like the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) treaty as a model for future inter-Korean relations: destroying a category of our missiles if South Korea were to do the same.”
“For example, we could destroy a class of our short-range ultra-accurate missiles if the ROK were to do the same with its Hyunmoo and ATACAMS ballistic missiles and if the U.S. were not to place its own missiles on ROK soil.
Kim Jong Un: It’s a long way to Singapore, By Dennis P. Halpin
In his new role as an international diplomat, Kim is following in his grandfather’s footsteps
Kim Jong Un, the master of short, unannounced mystery trips, can taken the plunge and engage in a high-publicity, long-distance meting away from the Hermit Kingdom.
“It’s a long way to Tipperary, it’s a long way to go,” went the lyrics of the famous First World War tune. Well, it is a much longer way from Pyongyang to the Southeast Asian city state of Singapore than it was from the battlefields of France to the Irish countryside.
The proposed Singapore summit will be precedent setting in many ways. But it will also be unprecedented in representing the furthest travel afield for a North Korean Kim family ruling member since the long-ago days of Kim’s grandfather, the Great Leader Kim Il Sung.
What exactly is North Korea’s “cultural heritage”? By Benjamin R. Young
Pompeo last month used a unusual euphemism when discussing a deal with Pyongyang
Late last month, during talks with North Korean official Kim Yong Chol in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted: “POTUS has made it clear that if Kim Jong-un denuclearizes, there is a brighter path for #DPRK. We envision a strong, connected, secure, and prosperous #NorthKorea that maintains its cultural heritage but is integrated into the community of nations.”
While the need for North Korea to denuclearize is nothing new in U.S policy towards Pyongyang, Pompeo’s turn of phrase that the country could maintain its “cultural heritage” is curious.
So what exactly is North Korea’s cultural heritage?
Besides a ruthless police state, an all-powerful personality cult, and ever-present propaganda apparatus, does the DPRK have a cultural heritage distinct from the one it shares with its southern neighbor?
During the Kim Jong Il era, numerous historians of the DPRK, chiefly Bruce Cumings and his many advisees, claimed that the DPRK was a neo-Confucian state. As Cumings once put it, North Korean’s corporatist system is “Neo-Confucianism in a communist bottle.”
It is harder to claim that North Korea is a neo-Confucian state these days. Led by a 34-year-old youngster that enjoys watching hoops with his American friend Dennis Rodman and with propaganda filled with disdain for traditional hierarchies, this is not a society that reveres the old over the new.
Additionally, as Peter Ward has pointed out, the North Korean state had no issues in the past mobilizing the elderly for work-related purposes.
In a 1987 speech, Kim Il Sung said, “We need to get a workforce for coastal fish farming… It would be good if the workforce be made up of 30% young-to-middle aged workers, with the other 70% being the old, social insurance recipients, and the infirm. There are going to be people who are too old or weak to work in jobs like mining. It’d be good to put them to work in coastal fish farming… It’s not a hard job…” This lack of respect for the welfare of the elderly is completely at odds with Confucian values, which stresses filial piety.
It is also hard to see where the distinctly Korean cultural concept of ancestor worship comes into play in present-day North Korea. Although still widely practiced south of the DMZ, the North claims ancestor worship as a remnant of Korea’s “feudal” past and banned the practice during the Cold War era.
North Korean culture primarily revolves around the Kim family personality cult. From students participating in the Mass Games to learning the revolutionary history of Kim Il Sung in schools, North Korean culture and the Kim family’s history are inseparable.
North Koreans’ love for singing almost always has an ideological element to it as well. Although North Koreans’ penchant for Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” is well documented, one is much more likely to hear a rendition of the “Song of General Kim Il Sung” or “Footsteps” north of Panmunjom