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With tensions between US, North Korea easing, what happens next?

With tensions between US, North Korea easing, what happens next?

South Korea's President President Moon Jae-in has called on the USA to help bring about a "peaceful solution" to the current diplomatic crisis with North Korea, after days of threat and counter threat. "We must peacefully resolve the North Korean nuclear issue no matter how many ups and downs there are", Moon said, according to the news agency Yonhap.

In a meeting with top aides at the presidential Blue House, Moon said South Korea would work to safeguard peace on the peninsula in cooperation with the United States and other countries.

Kim Jong Un appeared to reference the joint drills Tuesday, saying he would "watch" U.S. actions "a little more" before making a decision whether to launch missiles into the waters around Guam - a plan that was outlined last week as U.S. and North Korea traded increasingly hostile rhetoric. On Aug. 14, South Korean President Moon Jae-in emphatically told his American allies that "the North Korean nuclear issue must be resolved peacefully". North Korea said it would take this exercise into account when considering whether to resume its plans to attack Guam, the unincorporated territory of the US.

Daniel Pinkston, a professor of International Relations at Troy University in Seoul, said the exercises are vital practice for forces based in South Korea, especially those USA troops who rotate into the region on year-long deployments.

On Monday, Jim Mattis, US Secretary of Defense, told reporters at the Pentagon that they would not hesitate to tackle the North if it fired missiles to the United States or any of its territories, more particularly Guam.

In an effort to urge calmness in rhetoric and action, China proposed a "double freeze" which would require the U.S.to stop their joint military excercises with South Korea in order for North Korea, or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) as they prefer to be called, to stop future missile tests. "There must not be another war on the Korean Peninsula", Moon reiterated. "We are closely monitoring every move by the United States".

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When North Korea on Thursday repeated a threat against Guam, saying it was working on a plan to launch missiles into the waters near the USA territory, Roh Jae-cheon, spokesman of South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, appeared on TV to declare that Seoul and Washington were prepared to "immediately and sternly punish" any provocation by the North. He added he aims to use the Asia trip to get a "sense what the temperature is in the region". In the past, the North has used calendar events for displays of military prowess.

The commentary said that about 3.5 million young students and workers have volunteered to join or rejoin the army because of a possible confrontation with the United States.

The source said President Xi did not give an answer at that time.

However, he emphasized that any solution "must begin with a nuclear freeze", and "North Korea must stop additional nuclear and missile provocations".

More important, Kim's apparent decision not to fire a missile salvo toward Guam does not alleviate the larger US concern: North Korea's surprising progress in developing a long-range missile powerful enough to reach California, although not yet with a nuclear warhead.

Zhao said such a freeze could "have prevented North Korea from fast advancing their missile programs, especially from acquiring an ICBM capability so quickly". "Peace on the Korean Peninsula will not come through force".


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