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Seoul seeks smaller military drills with Washington amid talks toward peace
The Democratic People"s Republic of Korea said on Thursday that its commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was bound up with a "complete removal of US nuclear threats".
Following a rapid diplomatic rapprochement this year, the DPRK"s top leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump signed a statement in Singapore in June, agreeing to work toward the "denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula".
But the two countries have since disagreed on what it means, causing follow-up negotiations to stall.
Now Pyongyang is demanding sanctions relief and has condemned US insistence on its nuclear disarmament as "gangster-like", while Washington is pushing to maintain the measures against Pyongyang until its "final, fully verified denuclearization".
Thursday"s commentary released by the DPRK"s official Korean Central News Agency asserted that the commitment was a mutual rather than unilateral undertaking.
"It must be clearly understood that the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula means the removal of all nuclear threats－not only those from Pyongyang and Seoul but those aiming at the Korean Peninsula from surrounding areas as well", it said.
It urged the United States to give up the "delusion" of forcing the Pyongyang to give up its nuclear arsenal "unilaterally" through "pressure and coercion".
It also called for the lifting of sanctions, describing it as a "touchstone" in determining whether the US was committed to implementing the Singapore agreement.
Meanwhile, the Republic of Korea said on Thursday that it wants to hold smaller joint military drills with the US next year, scaling back larger exercises as part of an effort to boost nuclear diplomacy with the DPRK.
The allies have suspended a number of combined military exercises this year as tensions on the peninsula eased.
The DPRK has denounced the annual drills, which in the past involved hundreds of thousands of troops, warships and aircraft, as a "rehearsal for war".
With nuclear talks under way, Seoul and Washington are discussing scaling back their regular field exercises, including Foal Eagle in early 2019, and hold two computer-simulated command post drills next year, the ROK Defence Ministry said.
A second summit
A senior US envoy on the DPRK policy visited the Joint Security Area inside the Demilitarized Zone on Thursday during his four-day trip to the ROK.
Stephen Biegun arrived in Seoul on Wednesday afternoon, and toured the JSA, where soldiers from the two neighbors stand face-to-face, in the DMZ that has left the Korean Peninsula divided since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with armistice.
During the daylong tour, Biegun reportedly had no plan to meet with DPRK officials.
Tensions eased near the JSA as the two neighbors recently disarmed the area under the inter-Korean military agreement, which was signed by defense chiefs of the two during the Pyongyang summit in September between ROK President Moon Jae-in and Kim.
Biegun visited Pyongyang in October together with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, but he has yet to hold a one-on-one meeting with his DPRK counterpart since he took office in late August.
A second summit between Trump and Kim is expected to take place next year.
Pyongyang has long said it needs the weapons to deter a possible US invasion. Washington last week added three senior DPRK officials to those subject to sanctions. Pyongyang condemned the move, warning Washington"s approach could "block the path to denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula forever".
AFP, Xinhua and AP contributed to this story.blank silicone wristbands wholesalebracelet silicone montrecustom bff braceletsbracelet montre swatch silicone blanccheap silicone bracelets canada