President Trump, as part of the historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, reversed longstanding U.S. policy by calling for an end to military drills on the Korean Peninsula and saying he wants to bring U.S. troops home from the region – the president’s latest convention-defying move on the international stage in less than a week.
"We will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should," Trump said after his meeting with Kim. "But we'll be saving a tremendous amount of money. Plus, I think it's very provocative."
He also said he wants to “bring our soldiers back home” from the region, though added this is not “part of the equation right now.”
While both moves would align with Trump’s general principles of cutting costs and pulling soldiers back from conflicts where possible, they are sure to cause concern in Seoul, which views the presence of U.S. troops and the military exercises as important to regional security.
The South Korean government seemed to express nervousness about Trump’s remarks.
"At this current point, there is a need to discern the exact meaning and intent of President Trump's comments," Seoul's Defense Ministry said, according to the Associated Press, adding that there have been no discussions yet with Washington on modifying military drills set for August.
A spokesman for U.S. Forces Korea, which has approximately 30,000 troops in the peninsula, said they’ve received “no updated guidance” in regards to military exercises.
"The USFK has received no updated guidance on execution or cessation of training exercises -- to include this fall's scheduled Ulchi Freedom Guardian," the spokesman said in a statement.
But the South Korean government has been encouraging of the summit and played a key role in it, with Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha delivering a congratulatory message for the “success” of the event to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to Yonhap news agency.
Trump also spoke with South Korean President Moon Jae-in after the summit, while Pompeo is set to visit South Korea Wednesday.