S. Korean official: Announcement ‘coming soon’ on US military exercises

S. Korean official: Announcement ‘coming soon’ on US military exercises
© Getty

South Korea is expected to announce in the coming days a decision on the future of joint military drills with the U.S., after President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE said this week that he would suspend the exercises.

A senior official in South Korea's presidential office told The Associated Press that Seoul has been discussing a temporary suspension of the "Ulchi Freedom Guardian" exercise, as well as others, with the U.S.

The official said that it appeared certain that the drills would be halted, according to the AP. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump announced on Tuesday that he would suspend joint military exercises with South Korea after he signed a brief agreement with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that offered Pyongyang unspecified security guarantees from the U.S.

In exchange, the North reaffirmed its commitment to denuclearize. 

Still, Trump's readiness to give up the military exercises with South Korea marked a major concession to Pyongyang, which has argued that the drills are merely a rehearsal for an eventual invasion of North Korea.

Trump told reporters outside the White House on Friday that he was the one to suggest suspending the military drills, insisting that they cost the U.S. too much money.

"Military – I call them war games – I hated them from the day I came in," he said. "We pay millions and millions of dollars for planes and all this."

Past U.S. administrations have held that the drills are necessary to maintain military readiness. 

The agreement signed on Tuesday by Trump and Kim has also raised questions from some lawmakers and experts, who have expressed concern about its lack of specifics. While the document commits the North to denuclearization, critics have pointed out that Pyongyang has agreed to as much in the past and later broke those promises.