With negotiations between the United States and North Korea seemingly stalled on efforts to get Kim Jong Un to abandon his country’s nuclear weapons program, top Pentagon officials said Tuesday that while President Donald Trump has postponed large U.S. military exercises in the past as a goodwill gesture to the North, no other large scale military cancellations are planned at this point.
“We have no plans at this time to suspend any more exercises,” Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters in a briefing at the Pentagon. “There is no discussion about further suspensions.”
“Are you suggesting that North Korea is acting in bad faith?” a reporter asked Mattis.
“No,” the Defense Secretary answered, repeatedly deferring to the State Department and its efforts to negotiate a nuclear deal with the North Korean government.
“We also knew very clearly, this was going to be a long and challenging effort,” the Defense Secretary said of talks with North Korea.
“The bottom line is that there was progress made, the whole world saw that progress, when the two leaders sat down,” Mattis added, referring to the June summit in Singapore.
But since then, talks have run into problems, as evidence continues to mount of problems with U.S. efforts to reach a deal with the Pyongyang regime on denuclearization.
This week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was to have been in North Korea for meetings, but that was suddenly scrapped last week by President Trump, as the North Koreans have turned up their public criticism of the United States in recent days.
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers have made clear they aren’t surprised at the lack of progress in talks with Kim Jong Un and North Korea.
“I never had much more hope,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
“Kim Jong Un has a choice – denuclearize or continue leading a country in isolation withering under maximum pressure,” said Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO).