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Susan Rice: Kim Achieved More Than Trump in Summit

Susan Rice: Kim Achieved More Than Trump in Summit

The United States and South Korea have cancelled a major military exercise scheduled for August, a week after Donald Trump said he would end the "war games" in a surprise concession during his summit with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

It is a decision that will no doubt please Kim, as North Korea has long denounced the exercise as a provocation and rehearsal to invade the North.

"The potential comprehensive trade war will make the cooperation between China and U.S.in North Korea's nuclear issue more complicated", Cheng said.

"Following close cooperation, South Korea and the USA made a decision to suspend all planning activities for the [Ulchi Freedom Guardian], the defensive exercise slated for August", the ministry said in a text message, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency. But officials are studying other ways to keep up the military's capabilities, such as smaller-scale exercises.

The Pentagon has typically avoided describing the joint exercises as "war games" and has previously insisted they are not provocative because they are exclusively for defensive purposes.

Although the allies describe them as defensive and meant to improve coordination, North Korea past year called them " reckless sabre-rattling" that risked sparking an accidental war.

Mr Trump's announcement appeared to catch South Korea off guard and there was confusion how it would be implemented. The Pentagon has for years flatly denied North Korean assertions that the exercises are "provocative".

Last year's Freedom Guardian involved 50,000 South Korean troops and 17,500 from the US, as well as a few thousand additional personnel from other nations.

Seoul's Defense Ministry said Friday that Defense Minister Song Young-moo held "deep" discussions about the drills with US Defense Secretary James Mattis in a telephone conversation Thursday evening.

The visit will be Kim's third to China this year, following trips to Beijing and Dalian in March and May during which he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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The Pentagon said Monday that only the Freedom Guardian drill had been called off so far.

They went on for 11 days in August and involved about 17,500 USA troops. Also participating were troops from nations that contributed forces during the 1950-53 Korean War, including Australia, Britain, Canada and Colombia. -South Korea joint live-fire military exercise, at a training field, near the demilitarized zone, separating the two Koreas in Pocheon, South Korea April 21, 2017.

"His remarks on the possible suspension of the R.O.K. [Republic of Korea]-U.S. combined military exercises in August, I think the remarks are extremely strategic", said Moon.

About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea, a legacy of the Korean war, which ended in 1953 in an armistice that left the two Koreas technically still at war.

Last year, 17,500 USA and more than 50,000 South Korean troops took part in Ulchi Freedom Guardian, an exercise mostly focused on computerised simulations rather than live field exercises that use weapons, tanks or aircraft. The drills typically begin in March but were delayed a bit because of the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February.

The outing comes as China has sought to strengthen its role as a mediator between the United States and North Korea, where Beijing claims compelling security and economic interests.

Ms Kang Kyung Wha also told reporters sanctions against North Korea could be eased once it takes "substantive steps towards denuclearisation", seemingly setting the bar lower than Washington for such a move, the reports said.

"This week, the South Korean and USA defence ministries will jointly announce the results of their discussions", the source added.

South Korea's defense ministry spokesperson Choi also clarified the meaning of "suspension" in its statement.

In response to repeated requests for cost data, Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan, said: "We are now evaluating the costs of the exercises".

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