North, South Korea hold military talks, US to suspend drills on Korean peninsula

Photo handout photo taken and provided by the South Korean Defense Ministry shows South Korea’s chief delegate Major General Kim Do-gyun (R) shaking hands with his North Korean counterpart An Ik San (L) during their high-level military talks in Panmunjom, the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas, June 14, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 14 June 2018
0

North, South Korea hold military talks, US to suspend drills on Korean peninsula

SEOUL- WASHINGTON: Large military drills between the United States and South Korea have been “suspended indefinitely,” a senior US official told AFP on Thursday.
“Major military exercises have been suspended indefinitely on the Korean peninsula,” the official said, two days after President Donald Trump said the US would halt joint military exercises with its security ally Seoul.
Earlier, North and South Korea failed to reach any concrete agreement during their military talks on Thursday, as two-star generals from both sides met just two days after US President Donald Trump floated his plan to halt joint exercises with South Korea.
The talks, their first in more than a decade, held in the border village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone (DMZ), followed on from an inter-Korean summit in April at which leaders of the two Koreas had agreed to defuse tensions and cease “all hostile acts.”
They agreed to implement a 2004 agreement, in which the two sides’ militaries vowed to work to prevent unexpected clash in the West Sea, a joint statement said.
They also discussed the planned establishment of a hotline between the two militaries, but failed to set the specific time table for its reinstatement.
Kim Do-gyun, the South’s lead negotiator who is in charge of North Korea policy at the Defense Ministry, said before departing for the DMZ that the two sides would discuss the schedule of a ministerial meeting, which was not addressed in a joint statement.
“The nature of the tasks was not to be resolved at once,” Kim told reporters after the meeting.
The talks came two days after Trump said he would stop “expensive, provocative” war games with the South, following his historic summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Trump’s move had caught Seoul officials off guard as Washington did not give them a prior notice. But South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday his government would have to be flexible when it came to military pressure on North Korea if it was sincere about denuclearization.
The military talks had been initially slated for May, but were postponed after the North called off another planned high-level meeting in protest against US-South Korean air combat exercises.
The process was put back on track during a surprise second summit early this month between Kim and Moon.
The last time the two Koreas held military talks was in 2007.
Ahn Ik-san, the North’s chief delegate, said the delay was due to “certain headwinds” without elaborating, adding the two sides should overcome future obstacles based on mutual understanding and the spirit of the inter-Korean summit.


NATO will show unity despite differences: Stoltenberg

Updated 20 June 2018
0

NATO will show unity despite differences: Stoltenberg

  • Stoltenberg said NATO hopes to start accession talks with Macedonia at the summit, which will be held in Brussels on July 11 and 12
  • The US leader has also complained that the transatlantic defense alliance is more useful for Europe than it is for the United States

BRUSSELS: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg voiced confidence Tuesday that Alliance members will demonstrate unity at a summit next month despite “important differences” between the United States and European members of the transatlantic Alliance. US President Donald Trump has called on fellow members to shoulder a bigger share of the NATO budget. The US leader has also complained that the transatlantic defense alliance is more useful for Europe than it is for the United States. However Stoltenberg remained decidedly upbeat on Tuesday, while acknowledging the differences. “I’m absolutely confident that the NATO summit will demonstrate the transatlantic unity, that Europe and the United States stand together despite important differences on important issues like trade, the Paris (climate) agreement or the Iran nuclear deal,” the NATO leader told the France 24 television channel. “I met president Donald Trump recently in the White House and he reconfirmed his strong personal commitment to NATO and he also recognized that European allies are investing more in defense.” Trump caused dismay in Europe during his presidential campaign when he said that NATO was “obsolete” and failing to meet the challenge posed by Daesh terror groups. “He has a strong message about the need to do more (on defense spending) and I agree with him and the European allies also agree with him,” said Stoltenberg. Stoltenberg also said NATO hopes to start accession talks with Macedonia at the summit, which will be held in Brussels on July 11 and 12, after the small Balkan nation reached a deal with Greece to be renamed the Republic of North Macedonia.