Trump uses Kim’s letter to express negative view of ROK-US drills in attempt to pressure Seoul over defense cost

Aug 12, 2019, 08:53 am

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US President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday (local time) that Kim Jong-un expressed his will to resume negotiations as soon as the joint military exercise between Seoul and Washington ends in a letter sent by the North Korea leader. The photo shows Trump explaining to reporters about Seoul-Tokyo conflict and Kim’s handwritten letter before making his way to his golf club for his summer vacation./ Source: Washington D.C. AP=Yonhap News

By AsiaToday Washington correspondent Ha Man-joo 

US President Donald Trump said Saturday that Kim Jong-un expressed his will to resume negotiations as soon as the joint military exercise between Seoul and Washington ends in a letter sent to him by the North Korean leader. 

Trump claimed that Kim had apologized to him for North Korea’s recent testing of missiles and that the testing would stop when the combined exercise ends. Trump said that he looks forward to seeing him “in the not too distant future.”

Trump said that ROK-US joint military exercises, which Kim used as the cause of the missile launches, are “ridiculous and expensive”, pressuring South Korea to increase its share of defense costs ahead of official negotiations on the Special Measures Agreement (SMA),  a bilateral deal to share the cost of stationing US Forces Korea. 

In a tweet about the recent letter he received from Kim, Trump said the North Korean leader “stated, very nicely, that he would like to meet and start negotiations as soon as the joint U.S./South Korea joint exercise are over.”

Trump’s tweet comes about 15 hours after North Korea fired two projectiles believed to be short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea on Saturday. The missiles were fired at 5:34 a.m. and 5:50 a.m. from an area near the country’s northeastern city of Hanhung toward the sea between Korea and Japan. 

With the fifth round of launches since the two leaders’ meeting in Panmunjom on June 30, Kim seems to have hoped to resume working-level talks soon after the ROK-US exercise is over. 

As a result, there is much attention towards whether working-level negotiations, in which the two leaders agreed to resume in less than two or three weeks, will take place later this month when the ROK-US exercise ends.

“It was a long letter, much of it complaining about the ridiculous and expensive exercises,” Trump wrote. 

On the previous day, Trump told reporters that he received a “beautiful letter” from the North Korean leader, adding that Kim wasn’t happy with the “war games.”

Trump used Kim’s letter to express his negative view of the joint drills saying that they are “expensive war games.” At the same time, he apparently pressed South Korea over defense cost.

He then tweeted that he looks forward to seeing Kim “in the not too distant future,” suggesting the possibility of the third North Korea-U.S. summit within the year. 

CBS News reported, “President Trump said that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un wanted to hold another summit after the conclusion of joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises.”

“Mr. Trump – who frequently speaks warmly of the strongman – has left open the possibility of another meeting with Kim,” CBS News said. 

#Trump #Kim Jong-un #letter #ROK-US drills #defense cost 
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