US and South Korea agree to halt war games

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June 18, 2018 - 11:00 PM

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12. In a concession to North Korea to cease its production of nuclear weapons, President Trump has agreed to halt military drills with South Korea.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — U.S. and South Korean defense officials formally suspended a major joint military exercise in hopes of advancing nuclear negotiations with North Korea. It’s a bold gamble that could trigger a serious security crisis if the talks falter and the allies are forced to resume the drills, infuriating North Korea, analysts say.

The cancellation, abruptly decided by President Donald Trump at his summit last week with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was formally announced by the Pentagon on Monday. South Korea’s Defense Ministry simultaneously confirmed the suspension of the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises, consisting largely of computer-simulated war games.

In announcing his decision, Trump said suspending the “provocative” war games would “save us a tremendous amount of money.” The decision, which apparently came without consultations with South Korea or the Pentagon, surprised many in South Korea and the United States who believe the training is a central pillar of their countries’ seven-decade military alliance dating back to the 1950-53 Korean War.

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