The State Department said Tuesday the U.S. was still planning for President Donald Trump’s summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un next month despite reports Pyongyang threatened to call off the talks because of joint military exercises with South Korea in the region.
“We have not heard anything from that government or the government of South Korea to indicate we would not continue conducting these exercises or would not continue planning for our meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un next month,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters at a briefing.
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 quoted North Korea’s official news agency, KCNA, as saying.
The drills between the allies’ air forces were a rehearsal for invasion and a provocation at a time when inter-Korean relations were warming, KCNA said.
Trump and Kim are scheduled to meet June 12 in Singapore.
But Nauert told reporters: “Kim Jong Un had said previously that he understands the need and the utility of the United States and of the Republic of Korea continuing in joint exercises.
“They’re exercises that are legal, that are planned well, well in advance.”
She reiterated the U.S. has heard nothing officially from either Korean governments and dismissed the description of the exercises as “provocative” in the statement from the South Korean press.
“They’re certainly not provocative,” Nauert said. “Kim Jong Un has said he understands the importance to the United States that we conduct these joint exercises.
“They continue to go on.”
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