US has no plans to suspend more military exercises with South Korea: Mattis
Iran Press TV
Tue Aug 28, 2018 05:40PM
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said the United States has no plans to suspend more military joint exercises with South Korea, months after the US military indefinitely suspended major maneuvers with the Asian country.
Mattis said on Tuesday the US had postponed some major exercises earlier as a good-faith gesture for negotiations with North Korea while others had continued.
"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 summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
"We have no plans at this time to suspend any more exercises," he said.
The top US diplomat added that no decisions had yet been made on major exercises for next year.
After the historic summit June 12 summit, Trump said that the United States would stop "very provocative" and expensive military exercises with South Korea to facilitate denuclearization negotiations with Pyongyang.
The United States and South Korea hold regular military drills to the fury of North Korea, which has long seen the drills as preparations to invade it.
US and South Korean forces regularly rehearse everything from beach landings to an invasion from the North, or even "decapitation" military strikes targeting the North Korean government.
Following maneuvers last year, North Korea condemned the drills and fired ballistic missiles over Japan.
North Korea has long demanded US troops be removed from the Korean peninsula as part of a nuclear deal, but the US has been at pains to stress the issue is not a bargaining chip.
The US has about 28,500 service members stationed in South Korea.
North Korea tells US denuclearization talks may fall apart
Meanwhile, North Korean officials have said that denuclearization talks with the US were "again at stake and may fall apart."
The warning was made in a letter which was handed over to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, CNN reported, citing sources.
"The US is still not ready to meet [North Korean] expectations in terms of taking a step forward to sign a peace treaty," the report said.
The two Koreas have been separated by a heavily-militarized border since the end of the Korean War seven decades ago. When the three-year war ended in 1953, the two countries agreed to a truce agreement but not a peace treaty. As a result, while the two countries have not been at war, they have technically not been at peace either for the last 68 years.
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