High-level talks between Seoul and Pyongyang that were abruptly cancelled last week by the North are likely to be revived after the military exercises held by South Korea and the US wrap up after May 25, Seoul says.
South Korean presidential spokesman Yoon Young-chan announced the new timeline for the talks, which were put on hold by the North over the ongoing Max Thunder Air Force drills, in wake of the meeting between US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House on Tuesday.
At the meeting, the two leaders were supposed to make sure they are on the same page with regards to the much-anticipated talks between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, set for June 12.
Earlier, Trump hinted that his meeting with Kim might be delayed, saying that “if it doesn’t happen, maybe it will happen later,” adding that he is concerned by the apparent change of mood in the North.
The Max Thunder annual joint drills, involving over 100 aircraft from both of the sides, kicked off on May 11 and were set to last for two weeks. They followed the massive Foal Eagle field exercises conducted by the US and South Korea in April.
Over the last two weeks, the fate of what is touted as a historic first-ever summit between a sitting US president and a North Korea’s leader has been swinging in the balance. On Monday, US Vice President Mike Pence added to the uncertainty surrounding the talks, saying that Trump is still considering walking out of the summit.
In addition to the US-South Korea wargames, which have always drawn ire from the North, Pyongyang saw red over the recent remark by Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, who suggested that a Libyan scenario might be recreated in North Korea. Several years after giving up its nukes, Libya descended into bloodshed that was exacerbated by the NATO-led intervention that resulted in a brutal overthrow and murder of the country’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi.
It comes as North Korea is gearing up for the dismantling of its only nuclear test site at Punggye-ri later this week. Journalists from Britain, Russia, China and the US were invited to cover what is slated to become a very public closure of the former test polygon, which witnessed North Korea’s six nuclear tests.
The RT crew is among some 20 journalists covering the event.