U.S. Agrees To Scrap Part Of Military Exercise That Infuriated North Korea
The U.S. has agreed to scrap a training exercise involving B-52 bombers as part joint of military drills with South Korea that have provoked Pyongyang’s ire, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing American officials.
The request reportedly came from the South Korean government, which cautioned against generating tensions with North Korea ahead of a planned meeting between Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12. The drills began on Wednesday in South Korea.
North Korea reacted with fury on Tuesday at the news of the drills, code-named Max Thunder. The country canceled talks with South Korean officials planned for this week and has threatened to ax the Kim-Trump summit.
The regime also blamed comments made by national security adviser John Bolton for its change of attitude. Bolton suggested adopting the “Libya model” to push North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program. As North Korean officials remember all too well, this ended up with Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi being captured and killed by NATO-backed rebels about eight years after announcing he would dismantle Libya’s nuclear weapons program.
Kim himself has not yet commented on the matter. North Korean state-controlled media reported on Friday that the supreme leader chaired a meeting of the ruling party’s military commission, the first in two years, without disclosing the date of the gathering.
Kim was portrayed wearing a white suit and giving instructions to a room full of military officials. He discussed “organizational measures,” including a reshuffle of senior officials and a “radical improvement in military training,” as well as strengthening party ideology throughout the ranks.
The meeting discussed and decided on a series of organizational measures to further strengthen the revolutionary army of the Party militarily and politically and improve the overall work for defending the country,” read a report in the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
North Korea has also displayed its dissatisfaction with Seoul by refusing to accept a list of South Korean reporters it had invited to witness the dismantlement of the Punggye-ri nuclear test facility, planned for the end of May.
“The government tried to notify [North Korea of the names of] our journalists who will cover the event for the nuclear test site dismantlement in Punggye-ri through the communication channel at Panmunjom, but the North has not accepted this,” a South Korean Unification ministry official said Friday, as quoted by the Yonhap News Agency.