SEOUL, South Korea (CBSMiami) — The upcoming talks between North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump have been anticipated for weeks, but now they might not even happen. Kim Jong Un is threatening to back out, over combined military drills by the US and South Korean military. The talks between North and South Korea that were scheduled to happen Wednesday, have already been cancelled by Kim.
The cancellation came with a warning.
“The United States will also have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea-U.S. summit in light of this provocative military ruckus jointly conducted with the South Korean authorities.”
According to State Department spokeswoman Heather Hauert, “They’re exercises that are legal. They’re planned well, well in advance.” When President Trump accepted Kim’s invitation to meet back in March, then CIA Director turned Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was under the impression Kim would not object to the drills.
He told Face the Nation that Kim has allowed the U.S. to “continue our exercises on the peninsula something that’s been fought over for decades.”
He also made similar remarks the same day on Fox News, saying Kim has “got to continue to allow us to perform our militarily necessary exercises on the peninsula and then he’s got to make sure that he leaves on the table that discussion for denuclearization.”
In March, South Korean National Security Adviser Chung Eui-Yong said Kim “understands that the routine joint military exercises between the Republic of Korea and the United States must continue” after meeting with Mr. Trump at the White House.
The Pentagon says the military exercise is a routine, annual event that is purely defensive in nature. Army Col. Rob Manning says Exercise Max Thunder 2018 is designed to improve the abilities of the U.S. and South Korea to operate together. It began Monday and is slated to run through May 25, and is expected to include aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps, as it has in the past.
“The defensive nature of these combined exercises has been clear for many decades and has not changed,” said Manning.
Last year it included as many as 1,200 U.S. personnel and about 640 South Koreans as well as various aircraft including F-16 fighter jets, F-18 Hornets and EA-18G Growlers from the Navy’s electronic attack squadron. Manning says the defensive nature of these combined exercises has been clear for many decades and has not changed.