Trump: US-South Korean military drills not discussed with Kim
President Trump on Monday said that joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises were not discussed in his meeting last week with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as he sought to defend his decision to cancel them.
“The military drills, or war games as I call them, were never even discussed in my mtg w/ Kim Jong Un of NK—FAKE NEWS! I made that decision long ago because it costs the U.S. far too much money to have those ‘games’, especially since we are not reimbursed for the tremendous cost!” Trump tweeted Monday.
The military drills, or war games as I call them, were never even discussed in my mtg w/ Kim Jong Un of NK—FAKE NEWS! I made that decision long ago because it costs the U.S. far too much money to have those “games”, especially since we are not reimbursed for the tremendous cost!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2019
The Pentagon officially announced Saturday night that it was canceling the annual spring exercises, known as Foal Eagle and Key Resolve, in place of smaller exercises.
In its announcement, the Pentagon said the United States and South Korea made the decision to cancel Foal Eagle and Key Resolve in order to give space for diplomatic efforts with North Korea.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo “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 statement said.
Critics have said the decision amounts to a unilateral concession to North Korea that will harm military readiness.
North Korea has long sought for the United States to curb its military exercises with South Korea, arguing they are rehearsals for invasion.
Trump first suspended large-scale U.S.-South Korea military exercises after his first summit with Kim last June, arguing they are overly costly “war games.”
The latest decision comes after Trump’s second summit with Kim last week, in which Trump walked away without any deal on denuclearization.
In a press conference at the end of the summit, Trump again railed against the costs of the joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises.
“I was telling the generals, I said look, you know, exercising is fun, and it’s nice, and they play the war games, and I’m not saying it’s not necessary because at some levels it is, but at other levels it’s not,” Trump said. “But it’s a very, very expensive thing, and you know we do have to think about that, too.”
Monday afternoon’s tweet comes after Trump defended his decision Sunday, tweeting that he is trying to “save hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Trump has been claiming the exercises cost about $100 million each, but the Pentagon has said such drills typically cost about $14 million.