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An About-Face? President Trump Says 'No Reason' for Military Exercises With South Korea

08-30-2018

President Donald Trump said the United States shouldn't be spending large amounts of money on joint military exercises with South Korea, adding that his relationship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is "a very good and warm one."

The president canceled the joint military exercise in June due to "tremendously expensive" costs and what he called their "provocative" nature.

His words contradict Secretary of Defense James Mattis' claim that the US military does not expect to suspend any further military exercises on the Korean Peninsula.

"As you know, we took this step to suspend several of the larger exercises as a good-faith measure coming out of the Singapore summit," Mattis said Tuesday.

It was Mattis' first press briefing in five months, a timeline that has included President Trump's high-profile meetings with Kim and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"We have no plans at this time to suspend any more exercises. We will work very closely, as I said, with the secretary of state and what he needs done," the defense secretary added, noting that forces on the Korean Peninsula have continued with small-scale training exercises.

President Trump scrapped Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's bilateral meeting because "sufficient progress" had not been made in regard to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

Trump's move falls out of step with the Pentagon, which has maintained that the joint exercises are routine, purely defensive and vital to maintaining readiness on the Peninsula.

There are currently 28,500 US troops stationed in South Korea.

President Trump is blaming China for derailing the US-North Korea alliance.

"North Korea is under tremendous pressure from China because of our major trade disputes with the Chinese Government. At the same time, we also know that China is providing North Korea with..." the president tweeted.

The president issued what he called a White House statement saying he "feels strongly that North Korea is under tremendous pressure from China because of our major trade disputes with the Chinese Government."

"At the same time, we also know that China is providing North Korea with ... considerable aid, including money, fuel, fertilizer and various other commodities," he continued. "This is not helpful!"

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