In the wake of Trump's unexpected, nearly offhand comments to reporters, the Pentagon had nothing to say about the future of the war games. "So I think the rhetoric, I hated to do it, sometimes I felt foolish doing it, but we had no choice".
Trump did not mention human rights in his opening remarks at the news conference that followed the two leaders' meeting, giving only a vague answer to a reporter's question about whether his legitimization of Pyongyang betrayed North Korean human rights victims.
The U.S. had rejected such proposals in the past, but North Korea has declared an end to testing its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, and now Trump appears ready to end exercises while talks are ongoing. He added that the issue requires consultations between the allies.
The US side seeks denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula under terms that give US and global authorities broad power to inspect nuclear reactors in North Korea at any time they choose to verify parts of a potential denuclearization agreement.
North Korea regularly calls the military exercises provocative preparations for a northward invasion, and numerous scariest standoffs in recent years on the Korean Peninsula have happened when the drills were being staged.
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Since the 1970s, the United States and South Korea have held a major summertime exercise called Ulchi Freedom Guardian that involves tens of thousands of troops.
"There is no single change in the suspension of the South-U.S. joint military exercise compared to the past", Nam said.
Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said it was "troubling" that Trump had agreed to suspend joint drills without making any reference to North Korea dialling back its conventional military threat.
"There were no surprises", she said.
U.S. Air Force Airmen watch an F-16 Fighting Falcon take off during Exercise MAX THUNDER 17's media day at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, April 20, 2017.