Mattis: Sanctions Stay on N. Korea Until Denuclearization Progress

PM Modi meets US Defence Secretary in Singapore

The comments sought to address concern the United States may be rushing to strike a breakthrough in the unprecedented summit between the two leaders after US President Donald Trump put the meeting back on track for 12 June in Singapore.

In the run-up to North Korea's first summit with the United States, Pyongyang has replaced its top three defense officials, according to South Korea news agency Yonhap and other media reports.

North Korea's three most senior military officials have been replaced, a US official told Reuters. Yonhap identified them as defence chief Pak Yong Sik; Ri Myong Su, chief of the Korean People's Army's (KPA) general staff; and Kim Jong Gak, director of the KPA's General Political Bureau.

"The optics are horrendous given that Kim Jong-un is trying to posture as a good guy", Sue Mi Terry, the Korea chair at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington told the New York Times.

South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo said that given recent developments in North Korea, "one can be cautiously optimistic as we go forward".

The reshuffle reportedly took place in the middle of May.

When the impending meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did arise, conversations often centered less around the specifics of the meeting's likely agenda and more around where the leaders might choose to stay.

On Saturday, Mattis said USA troop levels in South Korea will not be on the table at the Trump-Kim summit.

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In the "6 Corps Affair" officers of the Sixth Corps in northeastern North Korea are believed to have plotted a coup d'etat, which included aiming their missiles at certain buildings in Pyongyang.

"It looks like they needed someone who can have a firm grip on the military and dynamically push ahead with the new policies amid changes in US-North Korea relations", he added.

Trump wants North Korea to "denuclearise", or get rid of its nuclear arsenal, in return for relief from economic sanctions.

Pyongyang has long argued that it needs nuclear weapons to protect itself against a possible invasion by the US.

"The world welcomes the remarkable events in the Korean peninsula brought about recently by the outstanding political calibre and wise leadership of HE (His Excellency) Kim Jong-un", Mr Assad said, according to KCNA.

Pompeo briefed Kang on the results of North Korean envoy Kim Yong-chol's trip to the U.S.

"North Korea will receive relief only when it demonstrates verifiable and irreversible steps to denuclearization", Mattis said during public remarks at a meeting with the South Korean and Japanese defense ministers.

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