Trump: Troop withdrawal from South Korea ‘not on the table’

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President Trump said Friday that reducing the number of U.S. troops stationed in South Korea is “not on the table” in upcoming talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“Not really, not at this moment, certainly not,” Trump said when asked if a reduction of American troops is a bargaining chip in the talks.

Trump added that “we haven’t been asked” to reduce the military presence, but said a future withdrawal was still possible, citing the cost of U.S. forces’ upkeep.

{mosads}“Now, I have to tell you, at some point into the future, I would like to save the money. You know, we have 32,000 troops there, but I think a lot a great things will happen, but troops are not on the table.”

The U.S. has roughly 28,000 soldiers stationed on the Korean peninsula, according to the Pentagon. U.S. forces have supported South Korea since the Korean War, but Trump in the past has complained that Washington is not properly compensated for the cost of maintaining them.

South Korea currently pays more than $800 million a year, or about half the cost of upkeep, under an agreement with the United States that expires at the end of the year. The Trump administration says South Korea should pay the entire bill for keeping troops in the area.

The New York Times reported late Thursday that Trump has asked Pentagon officials to look at options for reducing the number of troops on the Korean Peninsula, a report national security adviser John Bolton called “utter nonsense.”

“The President has not asked the Pentagon to provide options for reducing American forces stationed in South Korea,” Bolton said in a statement.

And chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White 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.”

Kim and Trump are expected to meet for a historic summit in the coming weeks as the U.S. pushes for the denuclearization of North Korea. Trump would be the first American president to sit down with a North Korean leader.

Trump said Friday that his administration has agreed to a date and a location for the meeting and will “be announcing it very soon.”

Tags Donald Trump Korea North Korea North Korea–United States summit South Korea U.S. troops
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