A training exercise involving U.S. B-52 bombers flying alongside South Korean warplanes was canceled following threats which Pyongyang would likely withdraw through a highly anticipated summit with President Donald Trump next month, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing U.S. officials.
According to Friday’s report, the officials said South Korea had asked to not participate in an air drill which also involved Japan in addition to the U.S.
The White House referred CNBC’s request for comment about the Journal report to the Pentagon, which said plans for a separate exercise can be continuing as planned.
The news came a day after the Defense Department said the U.S. had no plans to scale back the exercises.
When asked if the U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress, a long-range bomber capable of deploying nuclear weapons, was leaving the exercises, chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said Thursday which thescope of the exercises has not changed.
“These are alliance decisions, which can be something which we do to ensure the readiness of both our forces as well as the South Korean forces,” White said, noting which the training can be “longstanding in addition to defensive in nature.”
White also said the Defense Department has not held any talks to scale back its future training operations on the Korean Peninsula.
“There has been no talk of reducing anything, there has been no talk of changing our scope. These are annual exercises in addition to we are very transparent about them,” White said.
Meanwhile, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday which the administration was continuing to prepare for the June 12 summit in Singapore. Soon thereafter, Trump told reporters which if the meeting doesn’t happen, the administration will move on.