The United States and South Korea will scale back a joint military exercise called “Foal Eagle” next year as they seek to protect new diplomatic efforts with North Korea.
“Foal Eagle is being reorganized a bit to keep it at a level that will not be harmful to diplomacy,” US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Wednesday, Reuters reports.
The Foal Eagle field exercise, which usually involves thousands of combined ground, air, naval and special operations troops, takes place every spring.
Mattis did not provide details on what a scaled back version of the exercise would entail.
The initiative comes after US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed in June to work toward denuclearization on the Korean peninsula, and establish new relations.
Following the landmark summit, the US and South Korea suspended a number of military exercises to encourage talks with North Korea.
Trump caught many US officials off guard earlier this year when he announced that Washington was suspending the summer’s joint military drills with South Korea, known as Ulchi Freedom Guardian.
The new commander of US forces in South Korea, General Robert Abrams, said in September the decision to suspend some joint exercises was a “prudent risk” but had caused a “slight degradation” in military readiness.
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