Pentagon: No talk of scaling back drills ahead of North Korea summit

Pentagon: No talk of scaling back drills ahead of North Korea summit
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The Pentagon’s top spokeswoman on Thursday said there was no discussion of scaling back planned military exercises between the United States and South Korea ahead of the June meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“There has been no discussion of that,” Dana White said when asked whether there was any talk of scaling back future drills to ensure the U.S.-North Korea summit goes forward.

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North Korea on Tuesday threw the summit into doubt when it said it would pull out of high-level talks with Seoul, attributing the decision to joint military exercises between the U.S. and the South.

Pyongyang’s statement specifically criticized the inclusion of the nuclear-capable B-52 heavy bombers.

The exercises, known as Max Thunder, “are annual, they’ve been longstanding, they’re defensive in nature and they will continue,” White said.

“There’s been no talk of reducing anything, there’s been no talk of changing our scope,” White later added. “These are annual exercises, we’re very transparent about them. This is about the alliance, this is about safeguarding the alliance this is about ensuring our readiness as an alliance.”

The Pentagon also said Wednesday that B-52s were never scheduled to be a part of Max Thunder.

In response to North Korea’s threats, Trump on Wednesday acknowledged that the June 12 meeting may not take place.

“We haven’t been notified at all. We’ll have to see,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office when asked if the summit was still on.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday that the administration continues to move forward in preparation for the meeting.

“The president is prepared and will be ready to meet, and we’re continuing to move forward with the preparations at this point. If the North Koreans want to meet we’ll be there,” Sanders said at the daily White House press briefing.