The Pentagon on Thursday said there were no plans to scale back military drills with South Korea, despite North Korea threatening to cancel a planned summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Speaking at a regular press briefing, Pentagon Spokesperson Dana White said there had been no conversations about changing the joint drills, which are defensive in nature.
“The scope of our exercises has not changed … These are alliance decisions, this is something that we do to ensure the readiness of both our forces as well as the South Korean forces,” White told reporters.
“There has been no talk of reducing anything, there has been no talk of changing our scope. These are annual exercises and we are very transparent about them.”
In a dramatic turnaround, the North Korean government returned to its more typical rhetoric on Tuesday, suspending talks with Seoul and threatening to scrap a meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un set for June 12 in Singapore.
The North Koreans were reacting to annual Max Thunder air combat drills, which involve fighter aircraft from both the U.S. and South Korean armed forces. The drills began on May 11 and involve more than 100 warplanes.
Since the announcement, North Korea appears to have doubled down on the diplomatic pullback, with a senior DPRK official adding on Thursday that there will be no further meetings with South Korea until “issues” are resolved.
Pyongyang also appeared to walk back on any commitment to denuclearization, saying it did not need U.S. economic help or aid in exchange for its nuclear weapons.
“The U.S. is clamoring that they will offer economic rewards and benefits if we abandon nuclear arsenals,” the DPRK’s first Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Kye Gwan said on Wednesday.
“But we’ve never built our economy while having expectations on the U.S, and we will never make such deal.”
Despite Pyongyang’s sudden cold feet, Washington said it is preparing for the summit as before during a White House press conference also held on Thursday.
“The president is prepared and will be ready to meet, and we’re continuing to move forward with the preparations,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.
“If the North Koreans want to meet, we’ll be there, and at this point, there is not a lot of change beyond that. Certainly not in our process.”
Join the influential community of members who rely on NK News original news and in-depth reporting.
Subscribe to read the remaining 397 words of this article.
Featured Image: Pentagon by gregwest98 on 2009-07-18 05:35:10