Kim sends note of thanks and flowers to President Xi

Leroy Wright
June 19, 2018

China has long demanded that the USA and South Korea halt annual military exercises in return for North Korea's suspension of missile and nuclear tests.

However, in a sign Seoul may be open to suspending drills, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday his government would need to be flexible when it came to applying military pressure on North Korea if it was honest about denuclearization.

Chinese state media's treatment of Kim's visit departed from past practice of not announcing his travels until Kim returned home. He did not elaborate. After his talks with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, Pompeo stressed "the importance of China being a constructive participant in the next steps" after the Trump-Kim summit. China is North Korea's most important diplomatic and economic backer but has been angered by its nuclear and missile tests.

Although Chinese state media did not say if Mr Kim had already arrived in Beijing, a motorcade was seen leaving the city's airport and roads were closed off near the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, where senior Chinese officials meet visiting leaders.

Ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk said Seoul and Beijing share a "strategic goal" in achieving the "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula and that progress in nuclear diplomacy has been facilitating high-level contacts between North Korea and its neighbors. "We hope Chairman Kim Jong-un's visit will contribute to that".

She also stressed that Trump gave up an unnecessary concession by announcing a suspension to military exercises with South Korea without getting anything tangible in return.

The news agency reported that the deal to stop nuclear exercises will contain a "snapback" provision, allowing the United States and South Korea to resume the military drills if Pyongyang failed to deliver on its promise to denuclearize.

Last year's Ulchi Freedom Guardian went on for 11 days in August and involved about 17,500 us and 50,000 South Korean troops.

The announcement of the suspension of drills came as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un prepared to embark on a two-day visit to Beijing. His latest meeting with Xi will likely be framed as an opportunity for the North Korean leader to brief his Chinese counterpart on the results of the U.S.

Cancelling the drills, Trump added, would save the United States "a tremendous amount of money".

Trump threatens additional tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods
For an industry that is booming, a 25 percent extra tariff imposed by its biggest customer may not be good news. The US leader warned Friday of "additional tariffs" should Beijing hit back with tit-for-tat measures.

Beijing has repeatedly called for a "dual-track and suspension for suspension" approach where the North would stop its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for the USA and South Korea halting military exercises.

North Korea proposed the disarming, on a trial basis, the Joint Security Area in Panmunjom, the only site in the DMZ where both countries' soldiers stand nearly face to face, the South's presidential spokesman said on Friday. Plans for U.S. -Japan exercises are unchanged, he added.

The Ulchi Freedom Guardian involves computer-simulated defensive exercises and field exercises in land, sea, and air that are created to improve South Korea's defense.

"Our view of the threat has not changed".

However, North Korea offered a different account of the discussion.

Spending data for previous military exercises in Korea and elsewhere, however, suggest that the cost of a single exercise would be in the low or perhaps tens of millions of dollars in a USA military budget this year of almost $700 billion US.

However, spending data on previous exercises put the costs in the low tens of millions of dollars, a relatively paltry sum in relation to the U.S. government's $700 billion (€600 billion) military budget.

Calculating the cost of military exercises is a complicated process, often requiring data from different branches of the military and spread over several budgets over different years.

The ministry also said that there is no decision yet regarding other allied training exercises.

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