The Pentagon formally suspended a major military exercise planned for August with South Korea, a much-anticipated move stemming from US President Donald Trump’s nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Dana White, spokeswoman for the US Defence Department, said planning for the summer drills has stopped, but there have been no decisions made on any other military exercises with South Korea. Military exercises with other countries in the Pacific will continue.
Speaking at a news conference last Tuesday after his summit with Kim, Trump abruptly announced that he was suspending military exercises with the South, “unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should.”
He added that dumping the drills will save the U.S. “a tremendous amount of money. Plus, I think it’s very provocative.”Seoul’s Defence Ministry said Friday that Defence Minister Song Young-moo held “deep” discussions about the drills with US Defence Secretary James Mattis in a telephone conversation Thursday evening.
His announcement appeared to catch US defence officials by surprise, and his comments ran counter to long-held American arguments that the exercises are critical for effective operations with allies and are defensive in nature. The Pentagon has for years flatly denied North Korean assertions that the exercises are “provocative.”
But as the days went by, the US and Seoul began discussions about temporarily suspending the large Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises that usually take place in August and possibly other joint drills while nuclear diplomacy with North Korea continues.