South Korea disputes Trump’s claim of US$500 million U.S. troop bill

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The top US military commander in South Korea said Tuesday that North Korea has made few, if any, changes to its military posture and has provided no evidence it intends to end its nuclear program since agreeing to do so in the summer.

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun held three days of talks in Pyongyang last week to prepare for a second Trump-Kim summit due to be held in Hanoi on February 27 and 28.

"My personal opinion is the announcement of a second a positive sign of continued dialogue", Abrams said.

Two weeks before a second summit between the leaders of the United States and North Korea, the commander of USA forces in South Korea has said he has seen "little to no verifiable change" in Pyongyang's military capabilities following last year's first meeting. "It certainly beats the alternative of what we were living with in 2017".

In response, the UN Security Council and the global community have repeatedly adopted economic and diplomatic sanctions against North Korea.

"Seoul will cooperate with the national government so that the 2023 summer Olympics become something more than a sports festival - an opportunity to change the fate of the Korean peninsula", said Seoul mayor Park Won-soon.

"Having said all that though, we have not observed activity that's consistent with a full-court press on denuclearization", he added.

"Little to no verifiable change has occurred and North Korea's military capabilities", Abrams told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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The comment by David Malpass, under secretary of the US Treasury for global affairs, came after Hong Nam-ki, the minister of economy and finance, asked the World Bank to play a leading role in providing assistance for development of North Korea in case there is meaningful progress on denuclearisation.

Following his first meeting with Kim, Trump abruptly announced he would cancel large-scale military training exercises in South Korea.

North Korea has for decades said the exercises amount to preparation to invade the North - a notion the USA strongly denies.

But lawmakers pressed Gen. Abrams on whether the Pentagon was being kept in the loop on the upcoming summit and whether Defense Department concerns over the regime's military readiness would be addressed.

Trump has for years complained US troops in Korea are too expensive and do not adequately advance USA interests.

Mr Rogers said the two Koreas would have "a great future" when South Korea's capital, management and capabilities meet the natural resources and cheap, educated labour in the North. The new agreement amounts to an increase of about 8 percent.

Relations between Japan and South Korea have chilled recently due to disputes over their wartime history, including Japan's 1910-1945 colonisation of the Korean peninsula, as well as allegations of provocations by each country's military.