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 ErnstTrump tells GOP senators he’s sticking to Syria and Afghanistan pullout  McConnell: Senate will not recess if government still shutdown Barr calls for 'barrier system' on border 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 knocks BuzzFeed over Cohen report, points to Russia dossier DNC says it was targeted by Russian hackers after fall midterms BuzzFeed stands by Cohen report: Mueller should 'make clear what he's disputing' 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 PompeoOvernight Defense: Second Trump-Kim summit planned for next month | Pelosi accuses Trump of leaking Afghanistan trip plans | Pentagon warns of climate threat to bases | Trump faces pressure to reconsider Syria exit Pompeo planning to meet with Pat Roberts amid 2020 Senate speculation Trump to meet with top North Korean official to discuss 'fully verified' denuclearization MORE

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