US, South Korea and Japan officials play down fears after Trump summit

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American, South Korean and Japanese officials strove to present a unified stance Thursday in an effort to quell concerns about Washington’s military commitment to Asia.

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump’s said that he would suspend U.S.-South Korean military drills and that he hoped to eventually remove American soldiers from that Asian country. That sent shockwaves throughout the region, which depends on those two factors for peace and security. Trump’s comments appeared to catch both Seoul and Tokyo by surprise, possibly indicating neither was consulted beforehand.

Responding to that narrative, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha highlighted the strength of their respective security ties at a Thursday news conference.

The U.S.-South Korean alliance remains as “robust as ever,” Kang said. American forces in the country “play and will continue to play a crucial role in deterrence, peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” she continued.

Kono, meanwhile, said Japan understands that the world’s largest economy maintains its commitment to defend allies, adding that “the Japan-U.S. security commitment and U.S. forces in Japan posture remain unchanged.”

Pompeo, for his part, described America’s alliances with South Korea and Japan as “iron-clad.”

All three said they will work closely together to ensure Pyongyang acts on its Tuesday promise of “complete denuclearization.”

Regarding the paused war games, Washington and Seoul will discuss the matter, Kono noted, adding that such a halt “is contingent” on Pyongyang’s actions.

It is Japan’s understanding that the White House will discuss any provision of security guarantees to the North while monitoring the reclusive state’s progress on denuclearization, Kono said, noting that no security guarantees have yet been given.

Kang also said more negotiations would follow Tuesday’s historic summit.

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