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GOP senator questions suspension of joint military exercises with South Korea

GOP senator questions suspension of joint military exercises with South Korea
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstOvernight Defense: Military sexual assault reform bill has votes to pass in Senate l First active duty service member arrested over Jan. 6 riot l Israeli troops attack Gaza Strip Study: Early unemployment cutoff would cost 16M people 0B Masks shed at White House; McConnell: 'Free at last' MORE (Iowa), a key Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, is raising questions about President TrumpDonald TrumpProject Veritas surveilled government officials to expose anti-Trump sentiments: report Cheney: Fox News has 'a particular obligation' to refute election fraud claims The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? MORE’s decision to suspend joint military exercises with South Korea, something that appeared to surprise military officials.

“I don’t think that’s wise because we have done these exercises for years,” Ernst, who chairs an Armed Services subcommittee, said Tuesday. “I would just ask the president, why do we need to suspend them? They are legal.”

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U.S. military officials said Tuesday they still plan to conduct a major exercise with South Korean troops in the fall, saying they have not received updated guidance on ending training exercises with the South.

“We will continue with our current military posture until we receive updated guidance from the Department of Defense,” said Lt. Col. Jennifer Lovett, a U.S. military spokesperson in South Korea.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure Republicans welcome the chance to work with Democrats on a bipartisan infrastructure bill Cheney sideshow distracts from important battle over Democrats' partisan voting bill MORE (N.Y.) earlier in the day questioned the president trading a concession on legal military exercises in exchange for North Korea freezing its illegal nuclear testing program.

Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynGOP split on counteroffer to Biden's spending Police reform talks hit familiar stumbling block CNN asks Carol Baskin to comment on loose Texas tiger MORE (Texas), however, cautioned that Trump appears to be negotiating in the press and what he says now may not be part of any eventual deal with North Korea.

“The president is negotiating in the press,” he said of Trump’s offer to suspend joint exercises. “My interpretation is he saw that as a demonstration of good faith but certainly this is just the beginning and not the end."

“I wouldn’t give it too much significance,” he added. 

Trump declared during a press conference after meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises, or "war games," will stop during negotiations with the North.