The U.S. military has no plans yet to suspend any more major military exercises with South Korea, the defense secretary said, in the middle of a breakdown in diplomacy with North Korea over its nuclear weapons, Reuters reported.
Defense Secretary James Mattis told a Pentagon news conference that no decisions had been made about major exercises for next year but noted that the suspension of drills this summer as a good-faith gesture to North Korea was not open-ended.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s June decision to unilaterally suspend the drills caught many American military planners off guard and was broadly criticized as a premature concession to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who Trump wants to give up his nuclear weapons.
“We took the step to suspend several of the largest exercises as a good-faith measure coming out of the Singapore summit,” Mattis told reporters, referring to the June 12 meeting between Trump and Kim.
“We have no plans at this time to suspend any more exercises,” he said, adding that no decisions had yet been made on major exercises for next year.
Mattis also said smaller exercises deemed to be exempt from the suspension were ongoing.
Mattis’ comments on the drills come at a delicate time for negotiations between the United States and North Korea after Trump scrapped plans for a meeting between top officials from both countries.