The United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) will downsize joint military exercises next Spring to give "diplomacy" on the Korean Peninsula a chance, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said.
Jim Mattis, U.S. secretary of defense, speaks during a briefing with senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. [File photo:VCG]
"Foal Eagle is being reorganized a bit to keep it at a level that will not be harmful to diplomacy," Mattis said on Wednesday, adding that it would be "reduced in scope."
The U.S. and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) have been engaged in talks to denuclearize the peninsula.
In April, citing a "fresh climate of detente and peace" on the peninsula, DPRK's leader Kim Jong Un declared the nuclear quest complete and said his country would focus on "socialist economic construction."
Amphibious assault vehicles of the ROK's Marine Corps on display during the military exercises between the ROK and the U.S. in Pohang, ROK, April 5, 2018. [Photo:VCG]
The thaw culminated in a historic summit in Singapore in June, where Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump signed a document on denuclearization of the peninsula.
Washington and Seoul have since suspended most of their major joint exercises – characterized by Trump as expensive and "very provocative" – including Ulchi Freedom Guardian in August and Vigilant Ace, slated for next month.
But little other progress has been made, with the U.S. pushing to maintain sanctions against the DPRK until its "final, fully verified denuclearization" and Pyongyang condemning U.S. demands as "gangster-like."
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