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 ErnstDemocrat Mike Franken launches challenge to Grassley in Iowa Trump heads to Iowa as 2024 chatter grows Photos of the Week: Manchin, California oil spill and a podium dog 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 TrumpTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big money 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 PompeoMike PompeoState Department watchdog probing whether Trump aides took gifts meant for foreign officials Biden shows little progress with Abraham Accords on first anniversary Biden slips further back to failed China policies MORE

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