US, South Korea to reduce scope of 'Foal Eagle' military drill - Mattis

US and South Korea scale back major military exercise to aid nuclear talks

US and South Korea scale back major military exercise to aid nuclear talks

Any rapprochement between North and South Korea must move forward "in tandem" with efforts to denuclearize the peninsula, and can not come sooner, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy.

Mattis did not provide details on what a scaled-back version of the exercise would entail.

This is Foal Eagle, which is usually one of the major Korea wargames for the USA, and usually a big source of tensions with North Korea.

South Korea's nuclear envoy said that the United States showed "strong support" for an inter-Korean railway survey after meeting with his American counterpart in Washington on Tuesday.

"We have made clear to the ROK that we do want to make sure that peace on the peninsula and denuclearization of North Korea aren't lagging behind the increase in the relationship between the two Koreas", Pompeo told a news conference, using the acronym for the South's official name, the Republic of Korea.

Under the "2007 October 4 Declaration", South and North Korea agreed to initiate tour programs to the North Korean mountain, which has spiritual significance to both Koreas, and open a air route between Seoul and Samjiyon.

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The new commander of US forces in South Korea, General Robert Abrams, said in September the decision to suspend some joint exercises was a "prudent risk" but had caused a "slight degradation" in military readiness.

Retired Army Gen. Shin Won-sik, who served as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asserted that the inter-Korean military agreement left South Korea with weak surveillance capabilities for North Korea's forward-deployed troops and artillery units.

North Korea and the United States are working toward a second leaders' level summit meeting between U.S. President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

But since then negotiations have slowed over how and when North Korea would dismantle its nuclear arsenal.

It is viewed by many as a project that could lay a foundation for further inter-Korean economic cooperation, once layers of sanctions against North Korea are lifted.

Given that South Korea has made a decision to suspend combined military exercises and pledged to take over wartime operation control from the US, President Donald Trump's "America-first policy" might lead North Korea to "miscalculate" Washington's security commitment to Seoul, Kim warned.

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