US, South Korea suspend additional military exercise: Pentagon

US and South Korea again call off a major military exercise

US and South Korea again call off a major military exercise

The 2017 exercise involved about 230 USA and South Korean aircraft from eight military stations on the Korean peninsula "providing realistic air combat training and enhancing operational and tactical-level coordination through combined and joint combat training", according to a statement on the website of the Osan Air Base in South Korea.

The Pentagon announced Defense Secretary James Mattis and South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo had agreed to put off this year's version of Vigilant Ace, a large-scale air exercise slated for December.

"Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis and Minister of National Defense Jeong Kyeong-doo chose to suspend Exercise Vigilant Ace to give the diplomatic process every opportunity to continue", Chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White announced on Friday.

Defense ministers from the USA and South Korea "are committed to modifying training exercises to ensure the readiness of our forces".

The decision came as Mattis met with Jeong and South Japanese Minister of Defense Takeshi Iwaya on Friday at a security summit in Singapore.

Last year's drill was the largest-ever joint air exercise conducted by the two countries, . with 270 aircraft and some twelve-thousand troops taking part.

"Both ministers are committed to modifying training exercises to ensure the readiness of our forces", the statement read, saying the need for future exercises would continue to be evaluated.

Included were F-22 and F-35A stealth fighter jets, .an addition which was strongly condemned by North Korea as provocative.

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This exercise is different from the Freedom Guardian exercises that President Donald Trump canceled in June, before his summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Occurring just days after North Korea's successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the east coast of the United States, North Korea blasted the exercise as being a provocation.

Trump, however, has always been a skeptic of military exercises and has suggested that the joint training operations the United States carries out with South Korea are a waste of money.

Vigilant Ace is an air exercise aimed at improving coordination between the two armies that takes place every year in early December in South Korea.

The move comes about two months after Secretary of Defense James Mattis said the US had "no plans at this time to suspend any more exercises".

In August Mattis had said the Pentagon would "see how the negotiations go, and then we will calculate the future, how we go forward".

The Pentagon said Friday that Mattis consulted his counterpart in Japan regarding the suspension of the Vigilant Ace exercise and the two "reaffirmed their commitment to regional security".

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