U.S., S.Korea Again Call off Major Drill

US and South Korea again call off a major military exercise

Add South Korea as an interest to stay up to date on the latest South Korea news, video, and analysis from ABC News.

Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya and his US and South Korean counterparts, James Mattis and Jeong Kyeongdoo, participated in trilateral consultations on the sidelines of the meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) defense ministers, according to the NHK broadcaster.

The top Pentagon spokeswoman, Dana W White, says Washington and Seoul are suspending an air exercise known as Vigilant Ace "to give the diplomatic process every opportunity to continue".

"Both ministers are committed to modifying training exercises to ensure the readiness of our forces".

The Vigilant Ace exercises a year ago involved 12,000 USA troops and 230 military aircraft from the US and South Korea.

Included were F-22 and F-35A stealth fighter jets, .an addition which was strongly condemned by North Korea as provocative. The exercise drew keen attention because it came shortly after the North conducted its third test of an intercontinental ballistic missile and declared the completion of its "nuclear force".

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un also held an unprecedented summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore in June, where the leaders promised to work toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Trump caught many USA officials off guard earlier this year when he announced after his summit with Kim that the United States was suspending the summer's joint military drills with South Korea, known as Ulchi Freedom Guardian.

Mattis has said the "good faith effort" of suspending that exercise was not open-ended and that he wanted to wait and see how future negotiations with North Korea progress before making a decision about future large-scale exercises, particularly the Foal Eagle exercise scheduled for the spring.

During Friday's meeting, Iwaya explained to Mattis recent developments over the relocation as the central government took countermeasures against Okinawa, home to the bulk of US military facilities in Japan. She said the need for future exercises would continue to be evaluated.

Mattis consulted Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya ahead of the joint US and South Korean announcement.

Iwaya said defense officials of the 3 countries should work closely to support their diplomatic authorities for the full implementation of the UN Security Council sanctions against the North.

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