Mattis says exercises with South Korea will be scaled back to help diplomacy with North Korea

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Wednesday that the U.S. and South Korea will scale back a military exercise scheduled for next spring to avoid harming diplomatic efforts with North Korea.

Foal Eagle will be “reduced in scope,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon according to The Associated Press

Mattis also explained that the exercise will be scaled back to a level that will “not be harmful to diplomacy.”

This presence reduction seems to be part of a broader effort by Washington and Seoul to push for resumption of negotiations over North Korea's nuclear program.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has sent mixed signals over the past few weeks about his country's relations with South Korea and the U.S.

On Friday, Kim released an American prisoner and oversaw the testing of a "new tactical weapon" which may be inconsistent with plans for denuclearization that President TrumpDonald John TrumpPentagon update to missile defense doctrine will explore space-base technologies, lasers to counter threats Giuliani: 'I never said there was no collusion' between the Trump campaign and Russia Former congressmen, RNC members appointed to Trump administration roles MORE made earlier this year.

This Tuesday, North Korea detonated 10 of its guard posts in the Demilitarized Zone in a peace overture to their southern neighbors. 

Kim and Trump are set to meet again in 2019, according to Vice President Pence.