Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., torched the Trump administration's decision to halt military exercises with South Korea as part of the ongoing negotiations with North Korea, saying there should first be evidence it has taken "concrete steps" to denuclearize – but the suspension reportedly has already been ordered.
In a statement, McCain argued against President Donald Trump's decision to concede on the issue.
"Suspending U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises is a mistake," McCain said, The Hill reported Thursday. "Making unnecessary and unreciprocated concessions is not in our interests — and it is a bad negotiating tactic."
He added Trump was "parroting Chinese and North Korean propaganda" when he called the exercises "provocative."
McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the United States should not be making any concessions – or ease up on sanctions – until North Korea "takes concrete steps" toward denuclearization and addresses its human rights violations.
"I continue to hope that President Trump will be successful in his diplomatic efforts to achieve the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," McCain's statement asserted. "But we must not impose upon ourselves the burden of providing so-called 'good faith' concessions as the price for continued dialogue.
"It is North Korea — through its nuclear and missile programs, aggressive behavior, and egregious human rights violations — that poses the greatest threat to peace. And until North Korea takes concrete steps to change that, no concessions should be made, and the sanctions must continue."
Yet, according to Agence France-Presse, the halt has already been ordered, quoting an unnamed official saying "major military exercises have been suspended indefinitely on the Korean peninsula."
CNN also reported the planned August drill with South Korea would be suspended, with an announcement from the administration expected as soon as Thursday.
The Defense Department holds two major joint military drills with South Korea each year.
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