NEW YORK • The US has “indefinitely suspended” military exercises in South Korea to foster Washington’s fledgling relationship with Pyongyang in the wake of President Donald Trump’s meeting in Singapore earlier this month with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Defence Secretary Jim Mattis suspended the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises as well as two other war game operations that were scheduled to take place over the next three months, the Defence Department said in a statement last Friday night.
Mattis met earlier last Friday with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and National Security Advisor John Bolton to discuss ways to “implement the results of the summit”, according to the Pentagon.
“In support of upcoming diplomatic negotiations led by Secretary Pompeo, additional decisions will depend upon” North Korea “continuing to have productive negotiations in good faith”, the Pentagon said in the statement, adding that calling off the manoeuvres had been decided “in coordination with South Korea”.
South Korea’s Defence Ministry confirmed the suspension of exercises in a text message on Saturday, saying “additional measures” may be taken if North Korea continues “productive” dialogue.
For years, Pyongyang has repeatedly and routinely condemned the exercises as a hostile act. — Bloomberg