South Korea was apparently caught off guard by President Trump's announcement that the U.S. is canceling their long held joint military exercises in exchange for a promise from North Korea to denuclearize. Multiple NBC reporters in contact with South Korean officials say they had no idea the exercises were part of the negotiations.
Neely's fellow NBC anchor Richard Engel added that when he reached out to the South Korean military, they said they'd have to take a look at the official documents and check the language.
"Regarding the U.S. President Trump's comment regarding ending of the combined military drill and so on, we need to find out the exact meaning or intention behind his comments at this point," South Korea said in a statement.
"They didn't see it coming" and were “blindsided,” Engel concluded. It was shocking, he said, because these exercises are fundamental to our military relationship with South Korea.
“In exchange for putting his name down to a letter promising to do something he’s already promised to do, he got the end of these very important military exercises… and he got to be on the stage recognized by the President of the United States.”-@RichardEngel on Kim Jong Un pic.twitter.com/HgdPdxc55l— TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 12, 2018
U.S. forces in South Korea were also apparently clueless as to the decision to suspend the military exercises.
US forces in Korea said they had not received updated guidance on military exercises. “In coordination with our ROK [Republic of Korea] partners, we will continue with our current military posture until we receive updated guidance,” a spokesperson told Reuters.
Trump said his historic meeting with Kim Jong Un went better than expected. In their joint signed agreement at the conclusion of the summit, the two men made four key promises.
1. The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new U.S.–DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
2. The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
4. The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.