President Donald Trump Tuesday said the US will stop conducting military drills with South Korea after his historic summit here with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
“We will be stopping the war games which will save us a tremendous amount of money,” Trump told reporters, adding he had agreed to stop the “war games” because he considers them “very provocative”.
Trump’s declaration that the US would end joint military exercises with South Korea, fulfils a major demand by North Korea that has long claimed they are invasion rehearsals.
The US President, however, said the sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear tests will remain for now.
Trump also said he wants to withdraw American troops stationed in South Korea, like he had promised during his election campaign.
“I want to get our soldiers out. I want to bring our soldiers back home,” Trump said, adding “But that’s not part of the equation right now. I hope it will be eventually”.
Trump’s assertions could alarm South Korean conservatives who have urged him not to jeopardise their country’s security.
The US and South Korea are security allies, with about 30,000 American troops based in country to defend it from its northern neighbour, which launched an invasion in 1950.
They hold joint military exercises every year that anger North Korea which has long demanded an end to the drills and frequently responds with volatile steps of its own, leading to a spike in tensions.
“I think it’s very provocative. Under the circumstances we are negotiating a complete deal,” Trump said, adding “It is inappropriate to have war games. Number one, we save money. A lot. Number two, it is really something they very much appreciated”.
The move appears to be based on the ‘freeze for freeze’ proposal mooted by China, under which North Korea would stop nuclear and missile tests in exchange for a halt to the military exercises.
Kim has earlier declared a moratorium on testing, saying North Korea has completely developed its nuclear arsenal.
Trump and Kim Tuesday met for an unprecedented summit aimed at normalising bilateral ties and complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.