White House denies report about troop drawdown in South Korea
The White House on Friday strongly denied a New York Times story claiming the administration is talking to South Korea about reducing the number of U.S. troops stationed in that country.
“The New York Times story is utter nonsense,” national security adviser John Bolton said in a statement. Bolton said the Pentagon has not discussed a troop drawdown with South Korea.
“The President has not asked the Pentagon to provide options for reducing American forces stationed in South Korea,” he added.
The Times reported late Thursday that President Trump had asked the Pentagon to consider reducing the number of troops on the Korean Peninsula. The request reportedly worried military officials who raised concerns that it could undercut U.S. ties with South Korea and alarm Japan.
Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White also dismissed the report at a briefing on Thursday.
“This department has not gotten any word on that,” White said about a possible withdrawal. “Our posture remains the same.”
The report comes as Trump is slated to meet with Kim Jong Un as soon as this month in an unprecedented meeting between a U.S. president and North Korean leader.
North Korea has reportedly agreed to halt its provocative missile tests ahead of the meeting, which Trump has suggested take place at a border village between North and South Korea.
Any discussion between the U.S. and North Korea would likely involve the status of the large U.S. force on the peninsula, which regularly conducts war games with South Korean forces.
The U.S. currently has more than 28,000 soldiers stationed on the Korean Peninsula, where U.S. forces have supported South Korea since the Korean War.
Rebecca Kheel contributed.