President Donald Trump's Pentagon has suspended two military training programs with South Korea indefinitely to facilitate dialogue with North Korea, officials said Friday.
"To assist the implementation of the Singapore Summit outcomes and in coordination with our Republic of Korea ally, Secretary Mattis has suspended selected exercises indefinitely," said Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White in a statement.
"This includes the suspension of FREEDOM GUARDIAN along with two Korean Marine Exchange Program training exercises that will take place in the next three months."
Trump has already said that the US is ready to suspend joint military exercises with South Korea, and he imitated the language often used by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to describe the exercises and call them "war games" and "provocative". "Trump's statements on the subject were made after he held a historic meeting with North Korea's Kim in Singapore. On June 1
Nevertheless, South Korea has decided to publicly support the decision.The South Korean leader Moon Jae-in, whose country is constantly threatened with conflict with North Korea, was a strong supporter of dialogue and diplomatic Road to peace with the neighbor of his country.
"We look at the ongoing denuclearization negotiations with North Korea are crucial, and as long as the negotiations continue, the decisions of the governments of South Korea and the United States will be upheld," a spokeswoman said South Korean government.
However, the decision to discontinue the two military training programs indefinitely is an additional Trump administration measure. Some observers believe it is important for the US to maintain joint training exercises with South Korea. The country's military is made up of temporary conscripts and is not a professional army like the US. In this sense, it is particularly important that the South Koreans are well trained and prepared in case of conflict, experts say.
The ongoing dialogue with North Korea should lead to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The US and the international community want Pyongyang to give up its nuclear capabilities against security guarantees. It is estimated that North Korea has between 10 and 20 nuclear weapons.
However, the decision to annul joint military exercises between the US and South Korea is a great victory for North Korea. It is unclear whether North Korea has given anything other than a pledge to work for peace. The country claimed that it would disassemble a large rocket launch site, but no evidence has yet been provided for its destruction.