World

Key players react after Trump’s sudden decision to halt war games

Seoul trying to "find out exact meaning and intention" of US President's remarks

SEOUL Reactions by key players after US President Donald Trump's sudden decision to halt war games with South Korea came swiftly.

The halt may be necessary to expedite talks on North Korea's denuclearisation, South Korea's presidential office said yesterday, according to the country's Yonhap News Agency.

At a news conference after a historic meeting with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump said he would halt what he called "very provocative" and expensive military exercises the US stages regularly with South Korea.

Asked about Mr Trump's comments regarding the halting of drills, South Korean presidential spokesman Kim Eui Kyeom told reporters there was a need to seek measures that would help improve engagement with North Korea but it was also necessary to confirm exactly what Mr Trump had meant.

"We believe there is a need to consider various ways to further promote dialogue as long as serious discussions are being held between the US and North Korea for the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and establishment of peace," Mr Kim Eui Kyeom told reporters.

"For now, there still is a need to find out the exact meaning and intention of President Trump's remarks," he was quoted as saying by Yonhap.

The US-South Korean exercise calendar hits a high point every year with the Foal Eagle and Max Thunder drills, which both wrapped up last month. Another major drill is due in August.

SOLDIERS

The US maintains around 28,500 soldiers in South Korea, which remains in a technical state of war with the North after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.

Mr Trump's announcement was a surprise even to President Moon Jae In's government in Seoul, which worked in recent months to help bring about the Trump-Kim summit.

Mr Moon will be chairing a national security meeting today to discuss the outcome of Tuesday's summit.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said he hoped all parties could "grasp the moment of positive changes" on the peninsula to take constructive steps towards a political resolution and promoting denuclearisation.

"At this time, everyone had seen that North Korea has halted missile and nuclear tests, and the United States and South Korea have to an extent restricted their military actions. This has de facto realised China's dual suspension proposal," he told a daily news briefing.

"When it comes to Trump's statement yesterday that he would halt South Korea and the United States' military drills, I can say only that China's proposal is indeed practical and reasonable, is in line with all sides' interests and can resolve all sides' concerns."

China - North Korea's main ally - last year proposed what it calls a "dual suspension", whereby North Korea suspends nuclear and missile tests, and South Korea and the US suspend military drills.

Japan's Minister of Defence Itsunori Onodera said that while North Korea had pledged denuclearisation, no concrete steps had been taken and Japan would not let down its guard.

- REUTERS

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