Shortly after the US and South Korean militaries formally announced the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises slated for August had been called off, Seoul's Defense Ministry said the decision was necessary to support ongoing talks both countries have with North Korea.
However, in a sign Seoul may be open to suspending drills, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday his government would need to be flexible when it came to applying military pressure on North Korea if it was honest about denuclearization.
That is expected to be followed by a meeting between Kim and Trump in late May or early June, which would mark the first meeting between sitting leaders of the two countries.
"We expect a reciprocal action from North Korea in response to our decision to suspend the (South-U.S.) joint military exercise".
"This week, the South Korean and U.S. defense ministries will jointly announce the results of their discussions", the source added. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said there would be no changes to joint drill plans between the United States and Japan, both of which regularly practise to deter North Korea.
Choi echoed that nothing has been decided on other exercises.
The allies are also scheduled to negotiate next week on the financial proportion that each country contributes to the maintenance of the 28,500 US soldiers in South Korea, which US President Donald Trump said is very expensive for the US. Spending data for previous military exercises in Korea and elsewhere, however, suggest that the cost of a single exercise would be in the low or perhaps tens of millions of dollars in a US military budget this year of almost $700 billion.
South Korea on Monday will begin two days of war games to practice defending the disputed Dokdo islands off its east coast - against an unlikely attack by Japan.
In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the suspension of U.S.
Asked about his impression of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, he said, Kim seemed determined to abandon nuclear weapons and focus on economic development if there are security guarantees for his regime in return.
The Ulchi-Freedom Guardian drills are the largest annual U.S. The decision, which apparently came without consultations with South Korea or the Pentagon, surprised many in South Korea and the United States who believe the training is a central pillar of their countries' seven-decade military alliance dating to the 1950-53 Korean War.
North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because the Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. They include Foal Eagle and Key Resolve, which both take place in the spring.
South Korea and Japan are both market economies, democracies and United States allies, and both are threatened by nuclear-armed North Korea, but their relationship is heavily strained by historical and territorial issues.