Sen. Rand Paul said Tuesday that the U.S. should not “over-read” reports that North Korea is threatening to cancel next month’s summit with President Donald Trump over military exercises with South Korea in the region.
“This is consistent with the historic position [on the exercises] and that is why I wouldn’t over-read what is going on here,” Paul, the Kentucky Republican who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Wolf Blitzer on CNN.
“I’m hopeful the talks will still occur and the talks we’re talking about having in Singapore,” he added. “I think those will still occur.”
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported Tuesday that Pyongyang had canceled high-level talks due Wednesday with Seoul over the Max Thunder joint military exercises between the U.S. and the South.
“The U.S. will have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea-U.S. summit in light of this provocative military ruckus,” Yonhap said in quoting North Korea’s KCNA news agency.
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said planning remained underway for the June 12 summit in Singapore between Trump and Kim and that military exercises would continue.
Paul told Wolf that the reports were “a way of them pushing back on the military exercises.”
He added that since North Korea released three American hostages last week, they can demand an end to the drills.
“From their perspective, they also feel they gave up the three prisoners and said they are ending military-weapons testing,” he told Blitzer.
“They are giving and haven’t seen a little bit on the other side from us.
“This is just their way of responding and pushing back,” Paul said. “But I don’t think it endangers the upcoming talks.”
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