U.S. President Donald Trump's declaration on Tuesday that he meant to end joint military exercises with South Korea took South Korean and U.S. military officials by surprise. "He had a lot to do with us being here today", said Trump.
Pressed on whether he was surprised by the decision to halt the military drills, spokeswoman Dana White said: "There were no surprises".
"Conversations have been robust, there were no surprises".
China, North Korea's most important economic and diplomatic supporter despite its anger at Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests, wasted little time with a reminder that United Nations sanctions could be adjusted.
Although the Pentagon said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was consulted ahead of time, current and former USA defense officials expressed concern at the possibility that the United States would unilaterally halt military exercises without an explicit concession from North Korea lowering the threat from Pyongyang.
The drills, which date back decades, are an integral component of the Pentagon's boast that its troops are always ready to "fight tonight" on the Korean peninsula.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in spoke by phone with Trump for 20 minutes late on Tuesday, but an official readout of the call made no mention of military exercises.
That US command said it had "received no updated guidance on the execution or cessation of training exercises". "That's why we have been so emphatic with the federal government to make an accounting for all of the missing", said Hanson.
US President Donald Trump (2nd R) and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un (2nd L) sign documents.
But Sue Mi Terry, senior fellow and Korea Chair at CSIS, said even if the US did not consult with the South Koreans, she thought they would be fine with it.
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The "special bond" between Trump and Kim and the announced "unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization" apparently are not enough to lift or ease the existing punitive measures against Pyongyang, as Trump said they are to remain in effect but could be lifted. That's not part of the equation. I said, 'How far is Guam?' 'Six-and-a-half hours, sir.' I said that's a long way for a long way for a big bomber, times 20.
And what "exactly was the president committing to?" he added.
"The military exercises do not cost a great deal of money contrary to what Trump said. -North Korea or South-North summit could take place when two former South Korea presidents are still behind bars", he added, showing support for former presidents Park Geun-hye and Lee Myung bak.
But Daniel Davis, a retired army lieutenant colonel and fellow at the Defense Priorities military think tank, said suspending the drills would have no short-term impact on USA and South Korean military readiness. The move would reverse decades of USA military posture in the region, with joint exercises at the heart of readiness efforts against the rogue regime's artillery and more than one million soldiers.
The remarks were made by foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang at a briefing in Beijing after Foreign Minister Wang Yi praised the summit - the first between a North Korean leader and a sitting USA president - as "creating a new history".
"The Singapore summit statement is essentially aspirational: no definitions of denuclearization, no timelines, no details as to verification", Haass said on Twitter.
"We actually have a new deal with South Korea in terms of the trade deal but we have to talk to many countries about trading us fairly".
"Trump delivered it while getting nothing in return beyond the same generalities that North Korea has been offering since the early 1990s".