US, S. Korea suspend additional military exercise: Pentagon

South Korean Defense Ministry via Getty Images

The United States will suspend a number of military exercises with South Korea that were scheduled to take place in the coming months, the Department of Defense announced on Friday.

On the heels of President Trump's landmark summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in June, the Pentagon scrapped the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise, one of the largest joint drills between the USA and South Korea.

The historic U.S. -North Korea summit in Singapore in June boosted expectations for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but no tangible progress has been made since then.

In this handout image provided by South Korean Defense Ministry, U.S. Air Force B-1B bomber, South Korea and U.S. fighter jets fly over the Korean Peninsula during the Vigilant air combat exercise (ACE) on December 6, 2017.

"Both ministers are committed to modifying training exercises to ensure the readiness of our forces", she said, adding that Mattis consulted his Japanese counterpart, Takeshi Iwaya, on the matter.

"They pledged to maintain close coordination and evaluate future exercises", she said, referring to a meeting this week between Mr. Mattis and defense chiefs from South Korea and Japan.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been in talks with the North Koreans to organize a second summit between Trump and Kim. Trump called the exercise "provocative".

"A meeting is likely sometime after the first of the year", the U.S. official told reporters in Washington. "The US and South Korean puppet military warmongers should bear in mind that their escalating provocation and adding to crimes will only invite more awful retaliation and precipitate their self-destruction", said a statement published by North Korean state news agency KCNA past year. The US has insisted the manoeuvres are strictly defensive and are necessary to ensure a strong defence against the North, which invaded the South in 1950, prompting the US to end the conflict on the South's side.

Kim has long objected to the military drills between the United States and South Korea, claiming that these games are merely preparations for an invasion.

Last month, the then nominee to head U.S. and United Nations forces in South Korea said the pause in drills had been a "prudent risk" to help facilitate a detente on the peninsula.

"I think that there was certainly degradation to the readiness of the force for the combined forces", said U.S. Army Gen. Robert Abrams.

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