Ulchi Freedom Guardian 14

US Suspends 'War Game' With South Korea

A spokesperson confirmed no decisions have been made on any other military exercises with South Korea.

Ulchi Freedom Guardian 14

US Marines parachute during Ulchi Freedom Guardian 14. (Picture: US Department of Defense).

The US has formally suspended a major military exercise with South Korea, a much-anticipated move stemming from President Donald Trump's nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Ulchi Freedom Guardian had been planned for August.

Dana White, spokeswoman for the US Defense Department, confirmed "the United States military has suspended all planning for this August's defensive "wargame" (Freedom Guardian)".

In a statement, Ms White went on to say there have been no decisions made on any other military exercises with South Korea.

Military exercises with other countries in the Pacific will continue.

Speaking at a news conference last Tuesday after his summit with Mr Kim, Mr Trump abruptly announced that he was suspending military exercises with the South, "unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should".

He added that dumping the drills will save the US "a tremendous amount of money. Plus, I think it's very provocative."

His announcement appeared to catch US defence officials by surprise, and his comments ran counter to long-held American arguments that the exercises are critical for effective operations with allies and are defensive in nature.

The Pentagon has for years flatly denied North Korean assertions that the exercises are "provocative".

Trump and Kim
Following his meeting with Kim Jong-un, President Trump said military drills with South Korea would be suspended. (Picture: PA).

But as the days went by, the US and Seoul began discussions about temporarily suspending the large Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises that usually take place in August and possibly other joint drills while nuclear diplomacy with North Korea continues.

Seoul's Defence Ministry said on Friday that Defence Minister Song Young-moo held "deep" discussions about the drills with US Defense Secretary James Mattis in a telephone conversation on Thursday evening.

Mr Trump's decision to suspend the exercises, coupled with the vague joint statement issued after his summit with Mr Kim, have reinforced fears in South Korea that the North is attempting to take advantage of a US president who appears to care less about the traditional alliance than his predecessors.

Last year's Ulchi Freedom Guardian went on for 11 days in August and involved about 17,500 US troops.

Also participating were troops from nations that contributed forces during the 1950-53 Korean War, including the UK.

The other major US exercises with South Korea - Key Resolve and Foal Eagle - took place earlier this spring.

They historically include live-fire drills with tanks, aircraft and warships and feature about 10,000 American and 200,000 Korean troops.