August 12, 2019 09:42
U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday reiterated that joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises are "ridiculous and expensive" in spite of repeated missile provocations by North Korea.
"In a letter to me sent by Kim Jong-un, he stated, very nicely, that he would like to meet and start negotiations as soon as the joint U.S./South Korea joint... exercise are over," Trump tweeted. "It was a long letter, much of it complaining about the ridiculous and expensive exercises."
Trump's tweet appeared some 15 hours after North Korea fired another two short-range missiles into the East Sea on Saturday morning. The letter also contained "a small apology for testing the short range missiles, and that this testing would stop when the exercises end." He added, "I look forward to seeing [Kim] in the not too distant future!"
Earlier on Friday, Trump told reporters, "I've never liked [the exercise]. I've never been a fan. You know why? I don't like paying for it. We should be reimbursed for it, and I've told that to South Korea."
Trump's comments seem aimed at wooing American voters by persuading them that he has done a good job of containing the North Korean risk, while saving taxpayers' money.
One diplomatic source said, "Trump's top priority is to prevent a major North Korean provocation that threatens U.S. territory, and Kim knows this, which is why he is not stepping over the line."
Ongoing joint drills have been downsized to the point of consisting mostly of computer simulations rather than troop maneuvers, but even that is not enough for Kim.
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