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 ErnstOvernight Defense: Biden administration expands Afghan refugee program | Culture war comes for female draft registration | US launches third Somalia strike in recent weeks Grassley pressured to run as Democrats set sights on Iowa Republicans focus tax hike opposition on capital gains change 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 TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions The Memo: Left pins hopes on Nina Turner in Ohio after recent defeats Biden administration to keep Trump-era rule of turning away migrants during pandemic 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 PompeoNoem to travel to South Carolina for early voting event Poll: Trump leads 2024 GOP primary trailed by Pence, DeSantis Pence v. Biden on China: Competing but consistent visions MORE

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