Trump says summit with North Korea could still go ahead

US President Donald Trump speaks to the press on his way to board Marine One from the South Lawn of the White House on May 25, 2018 in Washington, DC. Trump is heading to Annapolis, Maryland to attend the US Naval Academy graduation and commissioning ceremony. (AFP)
Updated 25 May 2018
0

Trump says summit with North Korea could still go ahead

  • In a letter to Kim, Trump said Thursday he would not go ahead with the summit in Singapore, following what the White House called a “trail of broken promises” by the North.
  • Trump said Friday that the meeting with Kim Jong Un could still go ahead.

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump, a day after his cancellation of a high-stakes summit with North Korea, said Friday that the meeting with Kim Jong Un could still go ahead.
“We’re going to see what happens,” Trump told reporters at the White House, after welcoming Pyongyang’s latest statement on the talks as “very good news.”
“It could even be the 12th,” he said in a reference to the original June 12 date set for the meeting in Singapore.
“We’re talking to them now,” Trump said of the North Koreans. “They very much want to do it. We’d like to do it. We’ll see what happens.”
North Korea, responding to Trump’s abrupt cancelation of the meeting over “hostility” from Pyongyang, said Friday that it is willing to talk to the United States “at any time.”
Trump welcomed the statement as “warm and productive.”
“We will soon see where it will lead, hopefully to long and enduring prosperity and peace. Only time (and talent) will tell!” the US president said in a tweet.
In a letter to Kim, Trump said Thursday he would not go ahead with the summit in Singapore, following what the White House called a “trail of broken promises” by the North.
Trump blamed “open hostility” from Kim’s regime for his decision to call off the talks, and warned North Korea against committing any “foolish or reckless acts.”
But Pyongyang’s reaction to the sudden U-turn has so far been conciliatory.
First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan called Trump’s decision “unexpected” and “regrettable.” But he left the door open for talks, saying officials were willing “to sit face-to-face at any time.”
Just before Trump announced the cancelation of the meeting, North Korea declared it had “completely” dismantled its nuclear test site in the country’s far northeast, in a carefully choreographed goodwill gesture ahead of the summit.
But the chances of success for the unprecedented face-to-face had recently been thrown into doubt as threats were traded by both sides.


Trump's missile treaty pullout could escalate tension with China

Updated 26 min 57 sec ago
0

Trump's missile treaty pullout could escalate tension with China

  • Trump earlier said US will pullout from a Cold War-era treaty with Russia on nuclear arms
  • China was not party to the treaty and has been fielding new and more deadly missile forces

WASHINGTON: A US withdrawal from a Cold War-era nuclear arms treaty with Russia could give the Pentagon new options to counter Chinese missile advances but experts warn the ensuing arms race could greatly escalate tensions in the Asia-Pacific.
US officials have been warning for years that the United States was being put at a disadvantage by China's development of increasingly sophisticated land-based missile forces, which the Pentagon could not match thanks to the US treaty with Russia.
President Donald Trump has signaled he may soon give the Pentagon a freer hand to confront those advances, if he makes good on threats to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which required elimination of short- and intermediate-range nuclear and conventional missiles.
Dan Blumenthal, a former Pentagon official now at the American Enterprise Institute, said a treaty pullout could pave the way for the United States to field easier-to-hide, road-mobile conventional missiles in places like Guam and Japan.
That would make it harder for China to consider a conventional first strike against US ships and bases in the region. It could also force Beijing into a costly arms race, forcing China to spend more on missile defenses.
"It will change the picture fundamentally," Blumenthal said.
Even as Trump has blamed Russian violations of the treaty for his decision, he has also pointed a finger at China. Beijing was not party to the INF treaty and has been fielding new and more deadly missile forces.
These include China's DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), which has a maximum range of 4,000 km (2,500 miles) and which the Pentagon says can threaten US land and sea-based forces as far away as the Pacific island of Guam. It was first fielded in 2016.
"If Russia is doing it (developing these missiles) and China is doing it and we're adhering to the agreement, that's unacceptable," Trump said on Sunday.
John Bolton, White House national security advisor, noted that recent Chinese statements suggest it wanted Washington to stay in the treaty.
"And that's perfectly understandable. If I were Chinese, I would say the same thing," he told the Echo Moskvy radio station. "Why not have the Americans bound, and the Chinese not bound?"
Growing threat
US officials have so far relied on other capabilities as a counter-balance to China, like missiles fired from US ships or aircraft. But advocates for a US land-based missile response say that is the best way to deter Chinese use of its muscular land-based missile forces.
Kelly Magsamen, who helped craft the Pentagon's Asian policy under the Obama administration, said China's ability to work outside of the INF treaty had vexed policymakers in Washington, long before Trump came into office.
But she cautioned that any new US policy guiding missile deployments in Asia would need to be carefully coordinated with allies, something that does not appear to have happened yet.
Mismanagement of expectations surrounding a US treaty pullout could also unsettle security in the Asia-Pacific, she cautioned.
"It's potentially destabilizing," she said.
Experts warn that China would put pressure on countries in the region to refuse US requests to position missiles there.
Abraham Denmark, a former senior Pentagon official under Obama, said Guam, Japan and even Australia were possible locations for US missile deployments.
"But there are a lot of alliance questions that appear at first glance to be very tricky," he cautioned.
Still, current and former US officials say Washington is right to focus on China's missile threat. Harry Harris, who led US military forces in the Pacific before becoming US ambassador to Seoul, said earlier this year that the United States was at a disadvantage.
"We have no ground-based (missile) capability that can threaten China because of, among other things, our rigid adherence ... to the treaty," Harris told a Senate hearing in March, without calling for the treaty to be scrapped.
Asked about Trump's comments, China's foreign ministry said a unilateral US withdrawal would have a negative impact and urged the United States to "think thrice before acting."
"Talking about China on the issue of unilaterally pulling out of the treaty is completely mistaken," spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.