US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was scheduled for talks with his counterpart from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in New York on Thursday, a meeting a top United States military officer said may affect the country’s attitude on the Korean Peninsula.
Pompeo and Kim Yongchol, vice-chairman of the DPRK’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea’s Central Committee, are expected to discuss “all four pillars of the Singapore Summit joint statement”, the US State Department said.
US Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Monday that if the talks advance, the US may have to start making changes to its approach on the peninsula.
“This negotiation will take a form where we’re going to have to start making some changes to the military posture on the peninsula. And we’re prepared to do that in support of Secretary Pompeo,” Dunford said. But he did not elaborate.
The Republic of Korea said last week that it and the US would decide whether to suspend more joint military exercises by December. Vigilant Ace, suspended this month, is one of several such exercises halted to encourage dialogue with Pyongyang, which has criticized joint US-ROK exercises in the past.
Yonhap reported that ROK presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom declined to comment on Dunford’s remarks.
“I’d like you to remember that Chairman Kim Jong-un said there is no correlation between declaring the end of the Korean War and a pullout of US troops from South Korea (the ROK), or a weakening of the South Korea-US alliance, and President Moon Jae-in also said to that effect several times,” Kim said.
Li Chengri, a researcher from Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Dunford’s words should not be interpreted excessively.
He noted although larger US-ROK exercises were suspended, the two allies still continued their small-scale drills, including joint exercises under the Korean Marine Exchange Program which took place on Monday.
Li said Seoul depends on Washington’s security guarantee while the US also needs its ally for a strong presence in East Asia.
Thus, he said it is unlikely the US will give up its military presence in the ROK, considering the US-DPRK talks were still at an impasse due to differences such as the scale of denuclearization, US sanctions and whether to issue a war-ending declaration.
Reuters and Xinhua contributed to this story.
(China Daily 11/07/2018 page12)