Trump agrees to cancel exercises during Winter Olympics in major concession to Pyongyang

by WorldTribune Staff, January 4, 2018

The United States and South Korea will not hold joint military exercises that were slated to be held while the Winter Olympic Games were underway in PyeongChang next month.

U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-In agreed in a phone conversation on Jan. 4 to delay the exercises, according to South Korean presidential office spokesperson Cheong Wa-Dae.

President Moon Jae-In during his telephone conversation with President Donald Trump on Jan. 4. / Yonhap

The tentative agreement came at the request of the South Korean leader.

“I believe it would greatly help ensure the success of the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games if you could express an intention to delay joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises during the Olympics in case the North does not make any more provocations,” Moon was quoted as telling Trump.

Trump agreed, instructing Moon that he may tell North Korea that there will be no military exercises during the Olympics, Cheong said.

“South Korea’s President Moon Jae-In is striving to please Beijing at any cost and recalibrating relations with his nation’s powerful neighbors, China and Japan,” according to the current edition of .

“Moon has promised Beijing never to form a military alliance with the U.S. at Beijing’s expense and that he would not entertain any further U.S. THAAD deployment. …Washington is understandably displeased with Moon’s flakiness,” according to the report.

Related: Seoul’s left-leaning Moon angers U.S. with triangulation diplomacy, January 2, 2017

The White House confirmed in a press release that the leaders agreed to “de-conflict the Olympics and our military exercises so that United States and Republic of Korea forces can focus on ensuring the security of the Games.”

The call between Trump and Moon came one day after the two Koreas reopened their dialogue channel at the joint security area of Panmunjeom in a prelude to resuming government-level talks for the first time since December 2015.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said in his new year’s message that he was willing to send North Korean athletes to the Winter Olympics. He also suggested holding inter-Korean talks to arrange the proposed trip by a North Korean delegation of athletes and officials.

Moon said the resumption of inter-Korean dialogue will greatly contribute to the allies’ joint efforts to denuclearize the North.

“We will closely consult with the United States in the process of South-North Korea dialogue and we are confident that South-North Korea dialogue helps create an atmosphere for dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea on resolving the North Korean nuclear issue,” Moon was quoted as saying.

The PyeongChang Olympic Games will be held Feb. 9-25. Trump agreed to send a high-level delegation to the Games, including his family.

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