The U.S. and South Korea have suspended another joint military exercise on the Korean Peninsula this year to allow for more negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear program, the Pentagon’s top spokeswoman said Friday.
The Vigilant Ace exercise, planned for December, has been canceled "to give the diplomatic process every opportunity to continue,” Dana White said in a statement.
The cancellation comes after Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisFormer Defense Secretary Mattis testifies in Theranos CEO trial 20 years after 9/11, we've logged successes but the fight continues Defense & National Security — The mental scars of Afghanistan MORE met with South Korean Minister of Defense Jeong Kyeong-doo on Friday in Singapore at a regional security conference.
White said Mattis and Jeong are "committed to modifying training exercises to ensure the readiness of our forces."
The Associated Press reported that Mattis also met with his Japanese counterpart on the cancellation — both in the meeting with Jeong and then separately after — and they "reaffirmed their commitment to regional security."
Following his June summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE announced that he was suspending joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises, calling them expensive and provocative.
The announcement caught the Pentagon and U.S. allies by surprise, but the Defense Department later announced that it was canceling the summer Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise and two Korean Marine Exchange Program exercises.
Mattis at an August press briefing said the Pentagon had “no plans at this time” to suspend any future military exercises with South Korea. A day later, he clarified that there has been “no decision” on future exercises.
Gen. Robert Abrams, who recently took command of U.S. forces in South Korea, said in September that suspending military exercises on the Korean Peninsula was resulting in a “slight degradation” of readiness.