U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises still suspended, White House says

There is “no reason at this time” to spend large amounts of money on the joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises, the White House said Wednesday in a statement tweeted by President Trump.

The White House statement comes after Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters on Tuesday there are “no plans at this time to suspend any more exercises,” a seeming reversal of the administration’s policy after June negotiations with North Korea in Singapore. Mattis seemed to step back from that comment Wednesday, saying in a statement that “no decisions have been made about suspending any future exercises.”

The decision to suspend the military exercises, sometimes called “war games,” was a result of negotiations between Mr. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore in June. The move was criticized as an unnecessary concession by some. 

Mr. Trump released the statement Wednesday in a series of tweets, noting the “president believes that his relationship with Kim Jong Un is a very good and warm one,” and that the “president can instantly start the joint exercises again with South Korea, and Japan, if he so chooses.”

“If he does, they will be far bigger than ever before,” the White House statement issued from the president said. 

The White House statement suggesting Mr. Trump’s relationship with Kim is strong comes days after the president tweeted that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will not be traveling to North Korea due to a lack of progress on denuclearization

“I have asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to go to North Korea, at this time, because I feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Mr. Trump tweeted last week. 

Although the White House has said there are no plans for the president to hold another summit with Kim, Mr. Trump has left the door open to that. 

“Thank you to Chairman Kim Jong Un for keeping your word & starting the process of sending home the remains of our great and beloved missing fallen!” the president tweeted on Aug. 1, after North Korea returned the remains of soldiers who died in the Korean War. “I am not at all surprised that you took this kind action. Also, thank you for your nice letter – l look forward to seeing you soon!”

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