Trump defends decision to scrap large-scale military exercises with South Korea

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President Trump on Sunday defended the decision to cancel large-scale military exercises between U.S. and South Korean forces following his failed summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“The reason I do not want military drills with South Korea is to save hundreds of millions of dollars for the U.S. for which we are not reimbursed,” Trump tweeted. “That was my position long before I became President. Also, reducing tensions with North Korea at this time is a good thing!”

{mosads}U.S. and South Korean defense officials announced Saturday that large joint military exercises between the two nations will end and be replaced by smaller scale activities.

“The Minister and Secretary made clear that the Alliance decision to adapt our training program reflected our desire to reduce tension and support our diplomatic efforts to achieve complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a final, fully verified manner,” the Pentagon said.

Trump returned to the U.S. on Friday after a two-day summit in Vietnam that ended abruptly without any type of deal on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. 

National security adviser John Bolton on Sunday defended the decision to call off military exercises, disputing on CNN’s “State of the Union” that it amounted to giving the North Koreans something without getting anything in return.

“I don’t see that there’s any real difference between … what the president decided in Singapore and now,” Bolton said of the drills. “It’s not like some new decision has been made. The president made the decision on the exercises back in the summer of last year, and those continue.”

Trump announced in the wake of his first summit with Kim last June in Singapore that large-scale joint military drills with South Korea would stop “unless and until” negotiations with Pyongyang went poorly.

While the decision last year appeared to catch some lawmakers and officials off guard, Trump offered a similar reasoning for canceling the exercises. 

“The amount of money that we spend on that is incredible, and South Korea contributes, but not a hundred percent,” Trump said last June. “Under the circumstances that we are negotiating a very comprehensive, complete deal, I think it’s inappropriate to be having war games.”

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