The United States has indefinitely suspended some joint military exercises with South Korea, the Pentagon said late Friday, following a promise made by President Donald Trump at his North Korean summit this month.
The exercises affected included Freedom Guardian, which had been scheduled to take place in August, and two Korean marine exchange programme training exercises scheduled to take place in the next three months, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana W White said. The Pentagon had already said earlier this week that planning for Freedom Guardian had been suspended.
Trump apparently surprised the US' Asian ally South Korea as well as the US military when he announced the cancellation of joint war games on June 12 following his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.
Repeating North Korean arguments, Trump said the games were "provocative" to Pyongyang and added that they were "very expensive." He also speculated about the eventual withdrawal of 28,500 US troops from South Korea. The suspension of the exercises was regarded as a major win for Pyongyang - which committed to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula - as well as for regional superpower and North Korea ally China. White said Secretary of Defence James Mattis had suspended the exercises in coordination with South Korea "to support implementing the outcomes of the Singapore summit." The announcement followed a meeting between Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joe Dunford and National Security Advisor John Bolton. "In support of upcoming diplomatic negotiations led by Secretary Pompeo, additional decisions will depend upon the DPRK [North Korea] continuing to have productive negotiations in good faith," White said.
Last year 7,500 US soldiers and 3,000 South Korean troops took part in the Freedom Guardian exercises, which the Pentagon has always maintained are purely defensive.
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