The United States will no longer suspend joint military drills with South Korea, hinting that talks between Washington and the North have stalled.
U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis suggested Tuesday military exercises on the Korean peninsula were back on after being temporarily halted in show of good-faith following the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in June.
“As you know, we took the step to suspend several of the largest exercises as a good-faith measure coming out of the Singapore summit,” Mattis told reporters. “We have no plans at this time to suspend any more exercises. We will work very closely, as I said, with the secretary of state, what he needs done, we will certainly do to reinforce his effort, but at this time there is no discussion about further suspensions.”
Mattis’ comments the same day CNN reported that North Korea warned American officials that talks of the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula are “again at stake and may fall apart.”
Citing three sources with knowledge of the ongoing talks between Washington and Pyongyang, CNN reported U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo received a letter from the North which stated Kim and his regime could not move forward with talks because “the U.S. is still not ready to meet (North Korean) expectations in terms of taking a step forward to sign a peace treaty.”
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Pompeo was scheduled to visit North Korea again this week before the trip was cancelled last minute. On Monday, the Washington Post first reported on the letter, which the newspaper said was sent by Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee.
The newspaper said the exact contents of the message were unclear, but it was sufficiently belligerent that Trump and Pompeo decided to call off the journey. However, sources told CNN that if a compromise could not be reached between the two countries, and subsequent talks fail, the North could resume “nuclear and missile activities.”
Mattis went on to explained Tuesday the U.S. had suspended the large-scale military drills and but “did not suspend the rest.”
“There are ongoing exercises all the time on the peninsula,” Mattis said. “The reason you’ve not heard much about them is North Korea could not in any way misinterpret those as, somehow, breaking faith with the negotiations.”
The defence secretary went on to add that there were no immediate plans for any large-scale exercises.
–with a file from Reuters