Donald Trump said on Tuesday that the US was stopping “very provocative” and costly military exercises with South Korea to facilitate denuclearisation negotiations with North Korea.
The US and its ally South Korea hold regular military exercises to the fury of North Korea, which has long seen the drills as preparations to invade it.
“The war games are very expensive, we pay for the majority of them,” Trump told a news conference in Singapore after a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“Under the circumstances, that we’re negotiating … I think it’s inappropriate to be having war games.”
Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged to work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula while Washington committed to providing security guarantees for its old enemy.
But a joint statement signed at the end of their historic summit in Singapore gave few details on how either goal would be achieved.
“President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula,” the two leaders said in a statement.
Trump said he expected the denuclearisation process to start “very, very quickly”.
Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, and North Korean officials would hold follow-up negotiations “at the earliest possible date,” the statement said.
Political analysts said the summit had yielded only symbolic results and nothing tangible.
“It is unclear if further negotiations will lead to the end goal of denuclearisation,” said Anthony Ruggiero, senior fellow of Washington’s Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank.
“This looks like a restatement of where we left negotiations more than 10 years ago and not a major step forward.”
The US and South Korea began their annual joint military exercises on August 21, 2017.
Both countries insist that the drills are defensive in nature, but North Korea has long condemned the joint exercises as rehearsals for invasion.
During such drills, North Korea has often escalated its warlike rhetoric and lashed out with missile and other weapons tests.