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Pentagon 'Indefinitely Suspends' Troop Exchange Program with South Korea

© AFP 2023 / JUNG YEON-JE Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG). Archive photo
Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG). Archive photo - Sputnik International
The US military will "indefinitely suspend" two marine exchange programs with the South Korean military that have been scheduled to take place and involve training exercises. The move appears to be yet another indication of warming relations between North Korea, South Korea and the US.

Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and General Joe Dunford, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff met with National Security Adviser John Bolton on Friday to discuss "efforts to implement the results of the Singapore Summit between President Trump and Chairman Kim," Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said Friday evening.

"To support implementing the outcomes of the Singapore Summit, and in coordination with our Republic of Korea ally, Secretary Mattis has indefinitely suspended select exercises," White said in the release on Friday night. "This includes suspending Freedom Guardian along with two Korean Marine Exchange Program training exercises scheduled to occur in the next three months."

This picture taken by the Republic of Korea Air Force on January 10, 2016 and released via Yonhap news agency shows a US B-52 Stratofortress (bottom R) flying with South Korean F-15K fighter jets (top) and US F-16 fighter jets (bottom L) over South Korea - Sputnik International
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Any further actions concerning US-South Korean military drills will depend on North Korea continuing to have productive negotiations in good faith, White said.

The Pentagon previously announced the cancellation of Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises for 2018. The US Defense Department went one step further by announcing that UFG would also be suspended in future years until further notice, according to a statement released Friday evening.  

According to the DoD, these decisions have been taken to "support implementing the outcomes of the Singapore Summit" between Trump and Kim that took place June 12.  

People walk past a street monitor showing North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un in a news report about North Korea's nuclear test, in Tokyo, Japan, September 3, 2017 - Sputnik International
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US President Donald Trump vowed to end "war games" after meeting with North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. 

"In support of upcoming diplomatic negotiations," White said, "additional decisions will depend upon the DPRK continuing to have productive negotiations in good faith." 

Meanwhile, the South Korean Defense Ministry noted that the measure might be taken to create favorable conditions for North Korea’s nuclear disarmament.

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