This file photo taken on April 26, 2017 shows ROK and US soldiers watching from an observation post during a joint live firing drill between ROK and the US at the Seungjin Fire Training Field in Pocheon, 65 km northeast of Seoul. The US military has indefinitely postponed major joint exercises with ROK. (JUNG YEON-JE / AFP)
WASHINGTON - The United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have
agreed to indefinitely suspend two exchange program training exercises, the
Pentagon said on Friday, in the aftermath of the summit earlier this month
between US President Donald Trump and leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong-un.
The Pentagon has suspended two exchange program training exercises scheduled to occur over the next three months along with Freedom Guardian
"To support implementing the outcomes of the Singapore Summit, and in
coordination with our Republic of Korea ally, Secretary Mattis has indefinitely
suspended select exercises," Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.
"This includes suspending FREEDOM GUARDIAN along with two Korean Marine
Exchange Program training exercises scheduled to occur in the next three months,"
At a news conference after the meeting with Kim in Singapore, Trump
announced that he would halt what he called “very provocative” and expensive
regular military exercises that the United States holds with ROK. DPRK had long sought an end to the war games.
Earlier this week, the United States and ROK said they were
suspending planning for August's Freedom Guardian exercise.
Last year, 17,500 American troops and more than 50,000 ROK troops joined the Freedom Guardian drills, although the exercise is mostly
focused on computerized simulations rather than field exercises.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, played down the
significance of suspending the Korean Marine Exchange Program training exercises,
saying they were relatively minor.
Jim Mattis met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford and Trump's national security
adviser John Bolton on Friday, White said.
"In support of upcoming diplomatic negotiations led by Secretary
Pompeo, additional decisions will depend upon the DPRK continuing to have
productive negotiations in good faith," she added.
Every spring, the United States and ROK conduct Foal Eagle and
Max Thunder drills, both of which wrapped up in May.