President Trump said the United States should not spend large sums of money on joint military exercises with South Korea, and suggested that such war games be suspended indefinitely, which contradicted earlier statements by its own defense minister that pointed to the regular exercise program the right way.
The mixed news came about 10 weeks after the US military announced the suspension of certain war games with South Korea as a concession that Trump negotiated with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at his meeting in Singapore in June.
The joint military exercises between Washington and Seoul have long been a nuisance to the North Korean leadership, which they regularly refer to as provocative and threatening, and at times give an answer. The Trump government agreed to suspend some of the exercises after the Singapore summit, as American diplomats held talks on nuclear disarmament with North Korea.
In his tweets on Wednesday, Trump said, "There is currently no reason to spend large sums of money on joint war games between the US and South Korea."
Trump, referring to himself, added, "Besides The president can immediately resume joint exercises with South Korea and Japan if he wants, and if he does, they will be much bigger than ever. "
His proposal that all military exercises with South Korea and Japan indefinitely were directly opposed to what Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had said the previous day.
At the Pentagon press conference, Mattis said the US military "had set several of the biggest exercises, but we did not suspend the rest." He said, "There are always exercises on the peninsula."
Mattis added, "This is how the exercises continue, and what it means in practice is that we do not make any changes to the exercise program at this point."
On Wednesday, Mattis posted a follow-up and said that only Three individual military exercises after the Singapore summit had been suspended to "give space to US diplomats" to negotiate.
"Our military stance has not changed since the Singapore Summit ended, and no decisions have been taken to suspend future exercises," Mattis said.
He added that the alliance between the United States and South Korea remained "ironic."
"Our armed forces have a high degree of military preparedness and vigilance with full support for diplomatic efforts for peace, prosperity and peace stability towards the Korean Peninsula," said Mattis.
The US military often plans joint exercises a year in advance with allies such as South Korea. For example, the US and South Korean forces would normally hold the annual Vigilant Ace air raid exercise in December. Mattis' comments suggest that these exercises were going as planned, but Trump's statements raised questions about the future of such exercises.
North Korea has halted its missile and nuclear tests and repatriated some remnants of missing American soldiers from the Korean War. But so far, the negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled over the details of a nuclear disarmament agreement.
Last week, the Trump administration lifted US Foreign Secretary Mike Pompeo's fourth voyage to Pyongyang for talks.  Trump said he had told Pompeo not to leave because "there was not enough progress on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."
North Korea has demanded that the United States declare a formal end to the Korean War, something Washington can do, but American diplomats want Kim's government to make concessions on denuclearization before taking that step.
When he canceled Pompeo's trip, Trump said the foreign minister was looking forward to going north to Korea in the near future, most likely after the United States and China had solved trade issues.
The President returned to this explanation for the standstill talks in his tweets Wednesday night. He appeared to point out that China exerted pressure on North Korea to avoid disarmament agreements with the United States over the trade dispute with Washington. He also said China will continue to provide North Korea with substantial aid, money, fuel, fertilizer and other commodities. The President described these actions as "not helpful!"
"Nevertheless, the president believes that his relationship with Kim Jong Un is very good and warm," Trump wrote, referring to himself. He predicted that he would be dealing with China's trade disputes and other time differences with "China's big one." President Xi Jingping "would solve.
There are now signs that Pyongyang will continue to work towards a capability that would allow Kim to hit the country with a nuclear weapon. US officials have stated that North Korea's nuclear and missile programs are still proceeding in secret, although the country announced it would dismantle certain facilities.
Military exercises between the US and South Korea have long been a point of contention for North Korea. In response to a military exercise in late 2010, North Korea shelled a South Korean island, resulting in one of the most tense events on the peninsula since the 1953 ceasefire.