NATIONAL

N. Korea claims S. Koreans want withdrawal of US forces

By Yonhap
  • Published : Mar 14, 2018 - 10:46
  • Updated : Mar 14, 2018 - 11:39
North Korea on Wednesday slammed the ongoing negotiations between South Korea and the United States to renew their deal on defense cost sharing, claiming that South Koreans want the withdrawal of US forces from the peninsula.

The North's claim comes ahead of a planned summit between US President Donald Trump and its leader Kim Jong-un that would be held by May. It fuels speculation that the North may seek to strengthen its bargaining power ahead of the talks, experts say.

The North has long insisted that the some 28,500 American forces stationed in South Korea should be pulled out for peace. Analysts said that Pyongyang might seek inter-Korean unification by force if US troops are withdrawn.

The US forces deployed to the Korean peninsula back the South and enforce the demilitarized zone with the North. (AP)

The Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North's ruling party, condemned Seoul and Washington's latest talks on defense cost sharing, claiming South Koreans are the ones who hope for the troops' withdrawal.

"What South Koreans want is an unconditional withdrawal of US

troops from the South, an unwelcome guest that poses a threat to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula," the newspaper said.

South Korea and the US kicked off their first round of the talks last week to renew their five-year deal over Seoul's share of the upkeep of the 28,500 American forces stationed in South Korea for defense against the North.

Trump has agreed to an invitation by Kim to meet after a year of heightened tensions over North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile tests. The summit would be the first between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader.

After briefing Trump on a recent trip to the North, a South Korean official told reporters in the US last week that Kim Jong-un is committed to denuclearization and hopes to meet with Trump.

North Korea's state media has kept mum about Kim's summit with Trump, and a separate meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in slated for late April.

The Chosun Sinbo, a pro-North Korea newspaper in Japan, carried an expert's view on Tuesday, which says that a balance of power between North Korea and the US has brought into birth an envisioned inter-Korean summit and a North Korea-US meeting.

It said that North Korea's completion of nuclear weapons has enabled Pyongyang to strike a balance of power against the US The paper also dismissed a view that sanctions and pressure on the North led Pyongyang to agree to the summits.

The paper is not official North Korean media, but it serves as a mouthpiece for Pyongyang. (Yonhap)