Australia Foreign Affairs Minister, Julie Bishop, refuted U.S. President Donald Trump’s claim that the United States suspended its agreement to conduct military exercises with South Korea. According to Bishop, Trump’s announcement was not included in the official agreement between the United States and North Korea:
“It was not part of the declaration, so we have to take the declaration as being the areas of agreement and build on that.”
Bishop likewise disclosed that South Korea was caught by surprise by Trump’s revelation.
Prior to the summit with North Korea leader Kim Jong-un, representatives from the Trump Administration were adamant that any discussions on the suspension of military drills with South Korea were “off the table” and that demands for complete denuclearization were non- negotiable.
However, the summit between Trump and Kim produced a document; an agreement that stated both countries would pursue the process of denuclearization. There were no details or statements which indicated Kim would firmly discontinue developing the country’s nuclear weapons program.
Bishop expressed doubts the agreement was binding between the U.S. and North Korea:
“I don’t believe that suspension for suspension has actually been agreed. The declaration sets up four points of agreement. The president has raised a whole range of issues in his press conference but I think it is too early to say that anything like suspension for suspension has occurred.”
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull offered a more optimistic analysis on the summit between Trump and Kim. Turnbull is of the opinion that the proposal to suspend military exercises with South Korea was part of the negotiating process:
“Look, President Trump is a deal-maker. He is a businessman who has bought a lifetime’s experience of doing deals, of getting to know people, of being able to persuade them to come to an agreement.”
For Bishop, the agreement signed by Trump and Kim had to state “complete, verifiable, irreversible” denuclearization.
When Trump was asked why these conditions were not part of the agreement, he could only reply that there was not enough time:
“Because there’s no time. I’m here for one day. It wasn’t a big point today because really… this has been taken care of before we got here.”
Bishop believes only one thing is certain: the agreement did not clearly state the terms of denuclearization:
“We can only determine the success of this meeting by the outcomes, and that will take some time. North Korea has committed to a complete denuclearization. We are yet to understand what North Korea means by denuclearization.”