China's Xi praises North Korea's Kim for Trump summit, promises support

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Early a year ago, China suggested a way to defuse the escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula: North Korea would stop its nuclear and missile tests, while the United States and South Korea would stop their joint military drills.

US and South Korea adjourned joint military exercise planned for August, in order to obey the President Donald Trump's agreement of ending the war games signed during the meeting with Kim Jong Un, North Korean leader held last week.

As for subsequent military drills, the spokesperson said, "We are still coordinating additional actions".

Last year, 17,500 American and more than 50,000 South Korean troops participated in the Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills, although the exercise is mostly focused on computerized simulations rather than live field exercises that use weapons, tanks or aircraft. In April, North and South Korea agreed to sign a peace treaty formally later this year, ending a 65-year-old long war between them.

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South Korea and Japan have long feuded over the rocky and largely uninhabited territory, which the South calls Dokdo and Japan calls Takeshima.

"The United States and South Korea, after working closely, concluded on suspending the defensive Freedom Guardian military exercise planned for August", Choi said at a press briefing.

Move comes after Donald Trump pledged to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that he would halt joint "war games" on the Korean Peninsula. Over 120 South Korean firms operated there, employing some 54,000 North Koreans, until it was shut down in February 2016 during the administration of former South Korean President Park Geun Hye.

A vehicle of a motorcade believed to be carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un makes its way through Fuxingmennei Street in central Beijing, China June 19, 2018.

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In a similar vein, Foreign Minister Taro Kono said the decision will have no impact on U.S military exercises with Japan.

A unit of marines will also land on the largely bare rocky islets of Doko, which have been under South Korea's control since the end of World War II in 1945.

"Since the summit, North Korea has done nothing", a senior Defense Ministry official said.

Precisely because the artillery is so formidable, expect to see North Korea ask for something in return.

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Still, the US -initiated decision to shelve the drills isn't likely to dramatically change the psyche of South Koreans who have spent their entire lives facing North Korean threats and living through wild swings in inter-Korean relations.