US commander: Challenge with North Korea is making progress despite lack of trust

Gen. Vincent Brooks, the commander of U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula, said on Friday that the challenge with North Korea is making progress despite a lack of trust on both sides.

"Our challenge now, candidly, is to continue to make progress but to make that progress in an environment that is essentially void of trust, and without trust we'll find it difficult to move forward," said Brooks.

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"So building that trust while that pressure continues and while the efforts for diplomacy continue is the order of the day," Brooks continued at an Aspen Security Forum event. "In many ways, the lack of trust is the enemy we now have to defeat." 

Though President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Biden celebrates start of Hanukkah Fauci says lies, threats are 'noise' MORE has continually boasted that his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last month was a success, North Korea has muddied the waters with critical statements about the U.S.'s diplomatic conduct. 

When Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoNo time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Psaki: Sexism contributes to some criticism of Harris Mnuchin, Pompeo mulled plan to remove Trump after Jan. 6: book MORE visited Pyongyang at the beginning of July, North Korea's state-run news agency KCNA said the U.S. was approaching the talks with a "gangster-like mindset."

"The US is fatally mistaken if it went to the extent of regarding that the [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] would be compelled to accept, out of its patience, the demands reflecting its gangster-like mindset,” the statement said. 

Kim and Trump signed a joint agreement during the summit last month reaffirming North Korea’s commitment to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, but critics have noted North Korea often makes this promise without taking action. 

The agreement also included a promise by North Korea to recover U.S. soldiers' remains from the Korean War and unspecified security guarantees for Pyongyang. 

However, North Korea has not tested any nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles since the summit.

Brooks noted it has been almost a year since the country's latest nuclear test, saying "it has been 235 days without provocation."

Reports have emerged since the summit that North Korea is continuing to expand its nuclear arsenal