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 town hall in Iowa gets contentious over guns Air Force probe finds no corroboration of sexual assault allegations against Trump pick Gun control activists set to flex muscle in battle for Senate 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 Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president 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 PompeoChina threatens to sanction US firms over sales of F-16s to Taiwan Trump moves forward with billion F-16 sale to Taiwan Trump says he'll decide on foreign aid cuts within a week MORE

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