US President Donald Trump's declaration that he intends to end joint military exercises in Korea seemed to be news to both South Korean and US military officials.
Trump made the remarks at a news conference after his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore, calling war games expensive and "provocative."
South Korea's Presidential Blue House said it needed to "to find out the precise meaning or intentions" of Trump's statement, while adding that it was willing to "explore various measures to help the talks move forward more smoothly."
A spokeswoman for US military forces in Korea, meanwhile, said they had not received any direction to cease joint military drills.
"USFK has received no updated guidance on execution or cessation of training exercises - to include this autumn's schedule Ulchi Freedom Guardian," US Forces in Korea spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Jennifer Lovett said in a statement.
"In co-ordination with our ROK partners, we will continue with our current military posture until we receive updated guidance from the Department of Defence (DoD) and/or Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM)."
The Pentagon was not immediately able to flesh out Trump's remarks about suspending drills, a move the US military has long resisted.
Lieutenant Colonel Chris Logan, a spokesman, said only: "The Department of Defence continues to work with the White House, the interagency, and our allies and partners on the way forward following the US/DPRK summit. We will provide additional information as it becomes available."
One South Korean official said he initially thought Trump had misspoke.
"I was shocked when he called the exercises 'provocative,' a very unlikely word to be used by a US president," the official said on condition of anonymity.
If implemented, the plan could be one of the most concrete and controversial moves to come from Trump's summit with Kim, who pledged to pursue denuclearisation but offered no details.
South Korea said last month the issue of US troops stationed there was unrelated to any future peace treaty with North Korea and that American forces should stay even if such an agreement were signed.
"South Korea will have mixed feelings toward Trump's remarks," said Lee Il-woo, a director at Korea Defence Network in Seoul. "The country will welcome reducing the military exercises, as it could ease the decades-long tension on the Korean peninsula. But at the same time it will worry in terms of the possible negative consequences, as the reduction could scare South Koreans."
North Korea has called for an end to the exercises as part of the United States' ending its "hostile policy" toward the country.
China - historically North Korea's closest partner - has also sought a "freeze for freeze" agreement in which the exercises would be suspended in exchange for North Korea's stopping development of its weapons.
The US had rejected such proposals in the past, but North Korea has declared an end to testing its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, and now Trump appears ready to end exercises while talks are ongoing.
South Korean officials who met with Kim this year said the North Korean leader said he understood the need for the training. But as American and South Korean troops continued exercises, North Korean officials lashed out in several statements that led Trump to temporarily call off the summit.
Given Kim only repeated vague commitments to pursue the "denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula," some observers questioned whether Trump was making overly drastic concessions.
"I hope - but am not yet confident - that (North Korea) will take steps that match the concessions Mr Trump has already made by ending military exercises in South Korea and granting Mr. Kim legitimacy with this summit," Thomas Countryman, a former acting under secretary of state for arms control under President Barack Obama, told Reuters.