US to give N. Korea timeline with 'asks'

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE (Alaska) • The United States will soon present a timeline to North Korea with "specific asks" of Pyongyang after a historic summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, a senior US defence official said.

The official, who spoke to a small group of reporters ahead of a trip to Asia this week by Defence Secretary James Mattis, did not give details but suggested the timeline would be rapid enough to make clear Pyongyang's level of commitment. "We'll know pretty soon if they're going to operate in good faith or not," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"There will be specific asks and there will be a specific timeline when we present the North Koreans with our concept of what implementation of the summit agreement looks like."

Mr Trump has drawn criticism from national security analysts for an agreement that emerged from his June 12 summit with Mr Kim in Singapore that had few details on how Pyongyang would surrender its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week said he would likely travel back to North Korea "before too terribly long" to try to flesh out the summit commitments. He said Washington hoped to achieve major disarmament by North Korea within the next 21/2 years, within Mr Trump's presidential term, which ends on Jan 20, 2021.

At the Singapore summit, the first meeting between a serving US president and a North Korean leader, Mr Kim reaffirmed a commitment to work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, while Mr Trump said he would halt joint US-South Korean "war games".

Mr Mattis on Sunday tied the suspension of military exercises to getting concrete results on North Korea's denuclearisation. "The large, joint, combined exercises have been suspended... We'll see if the continuing negotiations keep them that way," he said.

The Pentagon chief also confirmed that US officials are awaiting the imminent release by Pyongyang of the remains of US servicemen who died in the Korean War in the early 1950s.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2018, with the headline 'US to give N. Korea timeline with 'asks''. Print Edition | Subscribe