Published: Wed, November 07, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

US, South Korea marines hold small-scale exercise ahead of Pyongyang talks

US, South Korea marines hold small-scale exercise ahead of Pyongyang talks

Pompeo also confirmed that the DPRK will not see any USA economic sanctions lifted until it has demonstrated complete denuclearization. But it remains unclear if the small-scale military drills will complicate talks. This week's meeting will be one of several conducted by the Secretary of State in the weeks and months since Mr. Trump's landmark summit in June with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore.

"The KMEP will start from November in accordance with the South Korea-US annual plan", a Marine official said.

Pompeo was set to meet Kim Yong-chol, an adviser to Kim Jong-un, this week in NY. Pompeo did not provide the location and date for the meeting, which will likely be focused on persuading North Korea to take firmer steps toward denuclearization and setting up a second summit between their leaders. North Korea has not tested a ballistic missile or nuclear weapon for almost a year, and has said it has shuttered its main nuclear test site and plans to dismantle several more facilities. The exact date and place of the meeting of the leaders of the United Kingdom and Russian President Vladimir Putin is not reported. During a banquet on Sunday, Kim said the "two countries are in the same trench in the struggle for defending sovereignty and dignity of their countries and safeguarding global justice", according to a state media report. After the North opened a tourist zone at the scenic area in 1998, some two million South Koreans visited until the fatal shooting, which prompted Seoul to impose a travel ban.

On Friday, North Korea's Foreign Ministry threatened to restart its nuclear weapons program if the USA failed to ease economic sanctions.

The piece, carried in North Korea's state-run news agency KCNA, accused Washington of believing the "foolish idea that the DPRK came out to the negotiating table, yielding to the sanctions" and failing to understand that "the improvement of relations and sanctions are incompatible".

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American officials have remained skeptical of Kim's commitment to give up the nuclear arsenal he has already amassed, however, and Washington says it won't support easing global sanctions until more verified progress is made. Pompeo, interviewed on television's "Fox News Sunday", said the Trump administration wants a full, verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, adding that Trump insisted on "no economic relief until we have achieved our ultimate objective".

North Korea stepped up its attack on US-led sanctions, threatening to resume its nuclear programme if the measures aren't lifted.

Military officials in Washington and Seoul are launching a wide-scale review of all future large-scale military drills between the two allies, with plans to lock in a finalized exercise schedule for the coming year, South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo told reporters at the Pentagon last Wednesday.

Seoul and Washington have continued to suspend their major combined exercises, the latest being the Vigilant Ace air force exercise originally slated for December.

The allies began the two-week Korea Marine Exercise Program, which involves some 500 troops.

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