Baek Tae-hyun, a spokesman for South Korea’s Unification Ministry, confirmed that North Korea had canceled talks between the two countries that had been scheduled for Wednesday because of its objection to the military exercises.
Baek said at a briefing for reporters that Seoul “is urging North Korea to come to the talks soon for the sake of peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula.”
The regime believes that the Max Thunder drills between the South Korean and U.S. air forces are a rehearsal for an invasion of the North and a provocative move amid signs of improving ties between the two countries, Yonhap said. A South Korean military official told NBC News that the drills would go on as planned.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the Trump administration was aware of the Yonhap report. “The United States will look at what North Korea has said independently, and continue to coordinate closely with our allies,” she said in a statement.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters on Tuesday afternoon that the United States would “continue to go ahead and plan the meeting” between Trump and Kim. She suggested that the United States had been caught off-guard by the Korean report.