US and South Korea again call off a major military exercise

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, center, and Singapore's Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen, front right, attend an informal lunch meeting with defense ministers at ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting in Singapore Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Don Wong)

SINGAPORE (AP) — The Pentagon and South Korea are canceling another major military exercise this year, citing a push for diplomatic progress with North Korea.

The top Pentagon spokeswoman, Dana W. White, says Washington and Seoul are suspending an air exercise known as Vigilant Ace "to give the diplomatic process every opportunity to continue."

That word comes while Pentagon chief Jim Mattis is in Singapore for a meeting of Asian defense ministers.

Vigilant Ace is an annual exercise. It was held last year in December with U.S. and South Korean air forces.

In June the Pentagon canceled this year's Freedom Guardian exercise after President Donald Trump abruptly announced that he disapproved of the maneuvers, calling them provocative and expensive.

Trump made the announcement after meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

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