Republican Sen. David Perdue on Tuesday said he is “troubled” by President Donald Trump‘s announcement after the summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that the U.S. will halt military drills with South Korea during negotiations with Pyongyang, The Hill reported on Tuesday.
The Georgian senator and member of the Armed Services Committee said he “was surprised, frankly, because the president had said earlier that that was not necessarily going to be part of the first meeting,” adding that “coordination with South Korean military is absolutely critical.”
Perdue, who lived in Singapore and China as a businessman before entering politics, said that in talks with North Korea it would “be terrible to throw on there any concession except for economic development,” explaining “that’s why I’m troubled by the military cooperation comments that have been made today.”
Trump’s announcement of the halt to the military exercises came as a surprise to South Korean officials.
The annual war games, which the U.S. has always touted as essential to military readiness and alliance-building, will stop “unless and until” negotiations go poorly, Trump said, adding that the exercises are very expensive and “very provocative.”
Perdue also commented on Trump’s remark that “at some point” he wants “to get our soldiers out” of South Korea, saying “it’s very premature to talk about removal of troops from South Korea.”
The senator also said that any meaningful progress in negotiations is not “going to happen in a fortnight and it will not be linear. There will be days that we think ‘yes, we’ll have peace,’ and then there will be days ‘oh my god, we’re going to have a nuclear holocaust,’ which is exactly we’re we’ve been for the past year.”
Perdue emphasized that it is also “totally premature” to discuss the United States withdrawing its nuclear umbrella from the Korea peninsula in exchange for the total denuclearization of North Korea.
“We need to be very clear this is not a negotiation,” he said. “We told them that we were totally resolved, Democrats, Republicans, legislative body, administrative body, we were totally behind the president regarding total denuclearization.”
In the run-up to the summit, Perdue had said that “the Trump administration has my full confidence as they move forward in these key talks,” according to the Chattanoogan.
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