The U.S. and South Korea are still working on what the future of their annual military exercises may look like, discussions that will continue into the U.S. visit to China and South Korea next week, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Wednesday.
Mattis will meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton on Friday on the issue to “sort out some of the details.” He will take up the issue again with South Korean defense minister Song Young-moo in Seoul as part of an Asia trip next week that will include a stop in China.
Cancellation of the South Korean-U.S. military exercises was one of the terms of the agreement President Donald Trump struck with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un in exchange for that country to denuclearize.
“We are meeting on Friday morning over here on this issue and then when I come out of Beijing next week I’ll go into Seoul,” Mattis said. “Usual close consultation ongoing as we sort out the way ahead.”
Mattis would not say whether the cancellation of Ulchi Freedom Guardian, set to begin in August and involve 17,500 U.S. service members, would have an impact on readiness.
“We need to sort it out before I start talking about it.,” Mattis said.
Tara Copp is the Pentagon Bureau Chief for Military Times and author of the award-winning military nonfiction "The Warbird: Three Heroes. Two Wars. One Story."