Trump

Seol: North Korea threatened today to cancel a much-anticipated and unprecedented summit between its leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump, the South’s Yonhap news agency reported.

Pyongyang also cancelled high-level talks due with Seoul over the Max Thunder joint military exercises between the US and the South, Yonhap said citing the North’s official news agency KCNA.

Max Thunder “is designed to train allied air forces to quickly generate overwhelming air power under realistic conditions,” a US military press release explained after the Max Thunder exercise in 2017. “Max Thunder serves as an invaluable opportunity for US and ROKAF forces to train together shoulder-to-shoulder and sharpen tactical skills vital to the defense and security of the Korean Peninsula,” US Air Force Lieutenant General Thomas Bergeson, head of Seventh Air Force, the service’s main unit in South Korea, said at that time.

Max Thunder typically occurs concurrently with the larger annual US-South Korea Foal Eagle exercise, which incorporates ground and naval forces, as well. According to the Pentagon, the 2018 iterations of Max Thunder and Foal Eagle were ongoing as of 15 May, after both countries agreed to push them back so as not to conflict with the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang earlier in the year. There were no plans to halt them in response to North Korea’s objections.

Earlier in May 2018, KCNA lambasted the United States and South Korea for bringing up the North’s abysmal human rights record, another long-standing point of contention.

This rhetoric, along with the threat not to participate in the summit with Trump and the decision to cancel the session with South Korean officials on the southern side of the demilitarized zone in Panmunjom, seem at odds with North Korea’s more conciliatory tone following a historic meeting between Kim and South Korea’s president Moon Jae In in April 2018.

US President Donald Trump on Saturday has thanked North Korea after it pledged to destroy its nuclear test site ahead of his summit meeting with Kim Jong-Un in Singapore.