Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Is anything out of reach after historic summit with North Korea?

Max Thunder's air combat exercises so unnerved North Korea that it issued threatening statements that almost scuttled the summit.

But no rational and objective observer who followed the summit and saw Trump and Kim behaving so cordially can believe that Trump is leading the USA into a nuclear war with North Korea.

"Only five months ago, based on my conversations with this administration, I thought we were headed down an inexorable path toward a devastating war", Victor Cha, who was considered for the role of United States ambassador to South Korea for nearly a year by the Trump administration before being passed over, wrote in The New York Times on Tuesday. "There's a lot of work left to do".

Even as Pompeo staunchly defended the summit results, he was less exuberant than Trump, who tweeted on his return to the USA on Monday morning: "Just landed - a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea", the president wrote on Twitter shortly after arriving back in Washington.

Pompeo also sought to downplay Trump's announcement on Tuesday that military exercises with South Korea would be suspended in return for North Korea's denuclearization.

The top US diplomat, after briefing South Korean officials in Seoul on the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore, said the U.S. Such a nuclear-weapons-free zone will demand concessions by the US, Seoul, Beijing and Moscow. "I think we have done something very historic already in one way".

He said Kim affirmed an "unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" in a signed document. "I just have to be honest with you, it's a game, it's a game, and one ought not play games with serious matters like this".

US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Mr Trump's cost reasoning for halting the exercises was "ridiculous".

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise described positive steps from the meeting, such as Kim saying he's willing to take steps toward denuclearization.

But Pyongyang has reason to feel confident after the meeting, where the leader of the world's most powerful democracy shook hands with the third generation of a dynastic dictatorship, standing as equals in front of their nations' flags. If you can't reduce it to writing, it's meaningless and he knows it.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that he expects North Korea to take steps toward major nuclear disarmament within the next two-and-a-half years. Trump promised to provide security guarantees to the North and suspend joint military drills with the South as long as negotiations with the North continue in "good faith".

Asked how he is able to trust the North Korean dictator, who has been accused of grave human rights abuses and the execution of political opponents, Trump said, "I'm given what I'm given, okay?"

The Pentagon has said that the next large-scale joint military exercise with South Korea is Ulchi Freedom Guardian, scheduled for fall.

The reports hailed Kim for "steering the geopolitical situations surrounding the Korean Peninsula and opening a new chapter in relations between North Korea and the US with energetic external activities".

"If they're not serious, then it's pretty easy to say, 'OK, those joint exercises that were scheduled for August are now going to happen in September or October, '" Thornberry said.

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