The Pentagon today assured America's allies of its "ironclad" security in the Korean peninsula amid unease over Donald Trump's announcement that US military exercises in the region would be scrapped.
The declaration that the "provocative" joint drills involving South Korean and US troops would be halted - following yesterday's summit in Singapore between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un - appeared to take US allies and even his own Cabinet by surprise.
The president said the "war games" would be on hold "unless and until" negotiations to end North Korea's nuclear threat collapse. He claimed that scrapping the exercises would save "a tremendous amount of money".
South Korea said it needed "to find out the precise meaning or intentions" of Mr Trump's statement.
The Pentagon was forced to deny suggestions that US defence secretary Jim Mattis was blindsided by the suspension after insisting the day before the summit that US troop levels in South Korea were not on the agenda.
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He was consulted before the announcement, said Pentagon spokesperson Dana White. "Our alliances remain ironclad, and ensure peace and stability in the region," she added. "The Presidential summit outcome is the first step along the path to the goal: complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and a free and open Indo-Pacific."
The North Korean regime's state-run KCNA news agency reported that Kim had accepted an offer to visit Washington. In turn, said the report, Kim would play host to Mr Trump in Pyongyang "at a convenient time".
"The two top leaders gladly accepted each other's invitation," added KCNA.
In his first reported remarks since Tuesday's meeting, Kim said the "irritating and hostile military actions against each other" should end.
After the summit, critics claimed little of substance was gained by the stage-managed meeting in Singapore and blasted Mr Trump for handing a public relations coup to the North Koreans.
While Kim "reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula" in a signed agreement, analysts claimed there was no detail on how this would be achieved. Back in Washington this morning, the president was crediting himself with pulling the world back from the brink of nuclear war.
"The World has taken a big step back from potential Nuclear catastrophe!" he tweeted. "No more rocket launches, nuclear testing or research! The hostages are back home with their families. Thank you to Chairman Kim, our day together was historic!"
He claimed the meeting proved that "real change is possible". © Provided by Independent Print Limited © Provided by Independent Print Limited