June 14, 2018 13:10
Washington is in disarray after U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday made a throwaway promise to end joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises.
At the press conference following his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Trump said, "We will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money." But as usual even some of Trump's closest colleagues had no idea he was going to make that promise.
Damage limitation efforts took sometimes farcical form. The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday quoted the White House as saying the U.S. military "would continue to train with its South Korean counterparts and conduct military drills -- but not large-scale joint exercises."
Cory Gardner, the chairman of the Senate's Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy tweeted that Vice President Mike Pence had told him that not all exercises will stop, but "while this readiness training and exchanges will occur, war games will not."
Pence only made things worse by denying he said that, only for the White House to explain that he did say it after all. "The VP was asked about force readiness and said that while the semiannual war games would cease -- assuming parameters of the deal are met -- regular readiness training would continue," a White House official told the WSJ.
Meanwhile, neither the South Korean Defense Ministry nor the U.S. Forces Korea made any comments about the upcoming annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills in August.
U.S. media reported that the White House will likely announce on Thursday whether they will go ahead or not.
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