GOP senator: US should continue military exercises with South Korea if North Korea talks break down

GOP senator: US should continue military exercises with South Korea if North Korea talks break down
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstErnst says Trump should sign defense policy bill with military base renaming provision Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers to address alarming spike in coronavirus cases Republicans fear backlash over Trump's threatened veto on Confederate names MORE (R-Iowa) said Sunday that the U.S. should restart its military exercises with South Korea if talks between Washington and Pyongyang break down. 

"I think we should continue with military exercises," Ernst said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "Obviously I believe they have a purpose in keeping the [Korean] Peninsula safe … so I would say soon if we don’t see those talks continue."

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump second-term plans remain a mystery to GOP Trump to hold outdoor rally in New Hampshire on Saturday Eighty-eight years of debt pieties MORE agreed during a landmark summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last month to halt joint military drills with South Korea as he sought to secure a commitment from Pyongyang to end its nuclear program.

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That announcement was touted as a win by Trump, who complained that the routine exercises were provocative and expensive for the U.S.

But many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle defended the drills as necessary to strengthen Washington's alliance with Seoul and prepare for a potential conflict in the region.

Ernst's comments came a day after North Korea snubbed U.S efforts to push for an end to the country's nuclear ambitions, accusing Washington of making "gangster-like" demands following a visit by Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoBack to the future: In January 2021 America needs to rejoin the world and start leading again Iran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report To support Hong Kong's freedom, remember America's revolution MORE

Pompeo later defended his most recent talks in Pyongyang, calling them "productive."