As Koreas agree to talk, China ups pressure on the North

Posted January 06, 2018

Preparations for the meeting at a border village - what would be the first formal gathering between the two sides since 2015 - would be done via letters, he said.

The annual military exercises known as Foal Eagle, which are normally held between February and April, are created to test the readiness of the two countries' militaries. Both North Korea and the U.S. have continued to threaten each other, with Kim Jong Un ramping up production of nuclear warheads and Trump vowing to keep up his pressure campaign.

In an interview with U.S. broadcaster Voice of America, Pence said the president's leadership on the world stage has resulted in "measurable progress", especially on the issue of North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

North Korea first called on Wednesday afternoon and the countries' officials spoke for 20 minutes, mostly to ensure the communication system worked properly, according to South Korea's Ministry of Unification.

Asked by journalists in an impromptu encounter at the Pentagon whether delaying the military maneuvers was a quid pro quo in response to Kim's reopening of cross-border communications, Mattis said: "No".

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"And I truly do believe that making it clear that all options are on the table; that, as the president has done, making it clear the United States of America has the capacity to defend our people far beyond anything North Korea could imagine; but also making it clear that if North Korea will abandon their nuclear and ballistic missile ambitions, if they will dismantle those programs, there's an opportunity for a peaceable solution", he said. He said there can be little doubt that global pressure, including sanctions ordered by the U.N. Security Council, is having some effect on Kim's calculations.

Although the decision was announced Thursday, the idea of delaying the military exercises had been under quiet discussion for weeks.

In an interview with CNN on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned that while it was Washington's aim to resolve the North Korean crisis diplomatically, "those diplomatic efforts are backed by a strong military option if necessary".

The president does not possess a physical button to launch nuclear weapons. Cirincione wrote: "Korean leaders have convinced him to take a step back from the brink".

Trump, who has exchanged a series of threats and insults with the Pyongyang regime since previous year, tweeted late Tuesday that he, too, has a "nuclear button" that is "much bigger and more powerful" than the one North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has.

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Kim said in his New Year speech that his country was willing to participate in the South Korea-hosted winter sports event and to talk with Seoul about the participation.

In his New Year's address, Mr Kim threatened he has a "nuclear button" on his office desk and warned that "the whole territory of the U.S. is within the range of our nuclear strike".

Earlier this week, Trump seemed open to the possibility of an inter-Korean dialogue after Kim made a rare overture toward South Korea in a New Year's address.

Her statement comes after Trump took to Twitter Tuesday to respond to Kim's claim that he possesses a nuclear button on his desk.

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