President Trump announces end of South Korea war games

President Donald Trump has stunned the Korean Peninsula by announcing the stoppage of U.S.-South Korean annual war games that have long been defended as defensive and vital by the allies.


Trump also said during a one-hour-plus news conference after his summit with the North Korean leader that Pyongyang agreed to destroy a "major" missile testing site after he and Kim signed a joint statement to make a broad commitment for the United States to provide the reclusive country “security guarantees” in exchange for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Trump appeared at times to get frustrated at reporters’ repeated questions on how he can trust Kim in light of his country's violations of past agreements and the regime’s brutality.

“Can you ensure anything?” Trump said after the first-ever summit between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. “Can I ensure that you’re going to be able to sit down properly when you sit down? You can’t ensure anything. All I can say is they want to make a deal. That’s what I do. My whole life has been deals. I’ve done great at it. That’s what I do. And I know when somebody wants to deal, and I know when somebody doesn’t.”

The press conference started with a video, played in Korean and English, that resembled a movie trailer and asked, “What if history can be changed? Will the world embrace this change?” Trump said he showed Kim and “his people” the video during the summit.

Trump and Kim capped off their summit at the Capella resort on Singapore's Sentosa Island by signing a statement committing the United States to unspecified “security guarantees” for Pyongyang in exchange for a denuclearized Korean peninsula.

“President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to [North Korea], and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," the statement said.

The document does not elaborate on what steps the United States will take to guarantee North Korea’s security, nor does it lay out the steps North Korea will need to take to denuclearize.

The statement refers to denuclearization of the entire Korean peninsula, North Korea’s favored language. And while the United States in the past has demanded so-called CVID — or complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization — the statement does not include the words “verifiable” and “irreversible.”

Asked whether the exclusion of those two words was a concession, Trump said “not at all.”

“I don’t think you can be any more plain than what we’re asking,” he continued. “We talk about unwavering commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

Methods to verify denuclearization were discussed, Trump said.

“It’s going to be achieved by having a lot of people there,” he said of verification.

Trump said a reduction in U.S. troops on the Korean peninsula was not on the table in discussions with Kim, but that “at some point” he wants “to get our soldiers out.”

But while U.S. troops will stay on the peninsula for now, Trump said joint U.S.-South Korean war games, which the Pentagon has said are essential to alliance-building and military readiness, will stop “unless and until” negotiations go poorly.

Pressed on what the United States gets in exchange for halting the military exercises, Trump said "we haven't given up anything.” Rather, he cast the decision as a cost-saving measure, but added the exercises are “very provocative.”

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