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

In an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he plans to talk next week with his North Korean counterpart, apparently referring to senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol.

The Korean Marine Exchange Program was among the training drills indefinitely suspended in June after U.S. President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore and promised to end joint, U.S.

The U.S. and South Korea resumed combined military exercises on Monday for the first time since the trainings were suspended earlier this year.

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.

The Foreign Ministry's Institute for American Studies said it could revive its policy of economic construction and nuclear development if sanctions continue.

Speaking on CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday, Pompeo said he expected to the discussions to make "real progress" and lay the groundwork for "substantial steps towards denuclearization" at a planned second Trump-Kim summit.

Pompeo emphasized in both television appearances that there have been no missile or nuclear tests since the summit in Singapore, and remains of United States troops killed during the Korean War have been returned.


But little progress has been made since then, with Washington pushing to maintain sanctions against the North until its "final, fully verified denuclearization", and Pyongyang condemning United States demands as "gangster-like". The ministry described the lifting of USA -led sanctions as corresponding action to the North's "proactive and good-will measures", apparently referring to its unilateral suspension of nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests and closure of a nuclear testing ground.

About 100 South Koreans, including Hyundai Group chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun, will cross the heavily fortified border into North Korea on November 18 for the ceremony before returning home the next day, Hyundai Asan spokesman Lee Jae-hee said. He also declared that the North would stop nuclear and long-range missile tests.

The North Korean foreign ministry, in its latest statement, said, "The improvement of relations and sanctions are incompatible".

Pompeo also confirmed that the DPRK will not see any USA economic sanctions lifted until it has demonstrated complete denuclearization.

"We're working on finding dates and times and places that will work for each of the two leaders", Pompeo said at the time.

Professor Kim Hyun-wook at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy says the timing of the announcement sends a strong signal to North Korea.

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


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