US Indo-Pacific commander assures Japan over North Korean denuclearisation

Is Kim trading a war-games suspension for sanctions relief in Beijing?

Is Kim trading a war-games suspension for sanctions relief in Beijing?

Ties have warmed as relations between North Korea and the United States have improved after Kim met U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore last week in the two nations' first summit. After departing that gathering in Quebec, Trump attacked Justin Trudeau as "dishonest" and "weak" after the Canadian prime minister told reporters his government would retaliate against new US tariffs it viewed as unfair. "I expect they will talk about the path going forward and where priorities should lie".

Asked on Wednesday if North Korea had done anything toward denuclearisation since the summit, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters: "No, I'm not aware of that ... obviously, it's the very front end of a process". Traditionally, it is the working level where negotiations begin and agreements are made before they are escalated to the higher levels.

KCNA also reported that Mr Xi said relations between China and North Korea had entered a new level of development since Mr Kim's first visit in March.

"China appears to be preparing for large-scale economic cooperation projects with the opening of additional aviation routes with North Korea".

Kim Jong-un also visited a rail traffic control center in Beijing under the China Investment Corporation. The following month, North Korea invited foreign journalists to witness the destruction of it's only known nuclear testing site in Punggye-ri.

But a day later, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned tough sanctions would remain in place until the U.S. could verify Pyongyang's "complete denuclearization". As the poll was being conducted, Trump was embroiled in controversy over his administration's policy of separating children from their parents after border agents catch the families crossing into the USA illegally. South Korea also announced Wednesday that it was nixing its own simulation-based military drills, which had been slated for next week.

Building on the diplomatic momentum from the Singapore summit, South Korea and the US announced Tuesday that joint military drills slated for August had been officially called off.

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"These things are always much better, and much more productive, if they are top-down", said a State department official.

If North Korea only wishes to prevent a US military strike, continuing top-level talks between China and South Korea would suffice.

The performance is part of a delicate balancing act for Kim, who analysts say is seeking to play U.S. and Chinese interests off each other while maintaining good relations with Beijing, his economic patron and diplomatic protector.

"I can confirm that Putin and I have a common goal and a shared vision and we are seeking this together", the South Korean leader said, noting that Russian Federation has offered assistance here by supporting and implementing the UN Security Council's sanctions against North Korea.

Before her promotion, she used to be the chief of the North America bureau within the North Korean foreign ministry, and was charged with overseeing the so-called Track Two Diplomacy with the USA, i.e., Pyongyang's secret talks with Washington held in Norway.

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