(CNN)President Donald Trump’s reasoning for the United States stopping war games on the Korean Peninsula because of cost is “ridiculous,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Tuesday night.
“It is ridiculous,” Graham told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
Graham continued by saying he did support stopping the drills, but in order “to give North Korea some breathing space to see if we can get a deal,” noting that “the money we spend training with our allies is money well spent.”
“It’s not a burden onto the American taxpayer to have a forward deployed force in South Korea. It brings stability. It’s a warning to China that you can’t just take over the whole region. So I reject that analysis that it costs too much, but I do accept the proposition, let’s stand down and see if we can find a better way here,” the South Carolina lawmaker said on “Anderson Cooper 360.”
Trump announced on Tuesday the US would no longer take part in joint military exercises between the US and South Korea. The news came as he was detailing his historic sit-down with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“Under the circumstances that we’re negotiating a very comprehensive, complete deal I think it’s inappropriate to have war games. … It is something that (North Korea) very much appreciated,” Trump said during a post-summit news conference in Singapore.
Trump also said the war games are “very expensive.”
“We paid for a big majority of them. We fly in bombers from Guam,” he said.
“That’s a long time for these big massive planes to be flying to South Korea to practice and then drop bombs all over the place and then go back to Guam. I know a lot about airplanes. It’s very expensive,” Trump added.
In an interview following the summit, Trump also said his North Korean counterpart “loves his people.”
“He’s got a great personality. He’s a funny guy, he’s very smart, he’s a great negotiator. He loves his people, not that I’m surprised by that,” Trump said of the dictator. “I think that we have the start of an amazing deal. We’re going to denuke North Korea.”
Graham pushed back on the comments, telling Cooper on Tuesday he’s “not under any illusion about who this guy is.”
“I don’t think he loves his people, I think he loves himself. The difference between Kim Jong Un and a radical Islamist is they want to die for their cause — Kim Jong Un doesn’t. He wants to live a good life, he wants security. Above all else, he wants to be secure,” Graham said.