WASHINGTON – The Pentagon announced on Saturday that it has agreed with South Korea to cancel large-scale military maneuvers held annually in spring, in an announcement that comes just days after the end of the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi.
The US Department of Defense released the news in a statement after a telephone conversation between its acting head, Patrick Shanahan, and his South Korean counterpart, Jeong Kyeong-doo, who approved the decisions recommended by the military command of both countries.
Following close coordination, both sides decided “to conclude the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle series of (military) exercises,” the media release says.
The “Key Resolve” maneuvers used to take place in March and lasted about two weeks, overlapping with “Foal Eagle,” which were carried out for a month.
Thousands of soldiers from the United States and South Korea participated in both military exercises, as well as contingents from Australia, the United Kingdom and France, among others.
In the phone call, Shanahan and Jeong “reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring the continued combined defense posture of US-ROK (Republic of Korea) combined forces to meet any security challenge, and agreed to maintain firm military readiness through newly designed Command Post exercises and revised field training programs,” the statement said.
Both stressed that this decision to adapt “our training program reflected our desire to reduce tension and support our diplomatic efforts to achieve complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a final, fully verified manner.”
This announcement comes after the conclusion of the Hanoi summit between Trump and Kim on Feb. 28, which ended abruptly because of differences between the two sides over the denuclearization of North Korea and the lifting of sanctions.
During their conversation on Saturday, Shanahan and Jeong assessed the results of that summit and discussed future coordination measures.
Minister Jeong “expressed his regrets that a complete agreement was not reached while also noting his hopes for the US and the DPRK to continue further vigorous conversations based on the discussion results of the Summit,” the note said.
Shanahan and Jeong “agreed that close coordination between the military activities of the United States and Republic of Korea will continue to support diplomatic efforts.”
In December 2018, Washington announced the suspension of the joint “Vigilant Ace” air maneuvers with South Korea to facilitate diplomatic negotiations with Pyongyang.
Vigilant Ace was a military exercise held annually at the end of the year with the participation of some 12,000 soldiers and some 200 warplanes from South Korea and the US.