US, South Korea Suspend Summer War Games Amid Dialogue With North Korea

Ryan Pickrell | China/Asia Pacific Reporter

The U.S. and South Korea have decided to cancel the war games initially scheduled for late summer, the Pentagon and South Korean defense ministry revealed.

“Following close cooperation, South Korea and the U.S. decided to suspend all planning activities for the [Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG)], the defensive exercise slated for August,” the South Korean Ministry of National Defense said Tuesday (local time).

“Consistent with President Trump’s commitment and in concert with our Republic of Korea ally, the United States military has suspended all planning for this August’s defensive ‘war game’ (Freedom Guardian),” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White introduced Monday evening. No decision has yet been made on any of the other exercises.

The decision follows President Donald Trump’s historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, where the president offered to indefinitely suspend “provocative” joint military exercises with South Korea, provided the North continues to negotiate with the U.S. in good faith. The president has repeatedly tried to present the move as a bargain rather than a concession, highlighting the cost of the annual drills.

The UFG exercises are computer-simulated drills designed to prepare the allies for all-out war with North Korea. The president assesses that exercises are no longer necessary, as there is, in his words, “no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” (RELATED: Trump Declares End To North Korean ‘Nuclear Threat’)

The cancelation of joint drills is not unprecedented. The “Team Spirit” exercises were canceled in 1992 during a period of dialogue with North Korea. They resumed one year later.

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