SINGAPORE -- US President Donald Trump on Tuesday ruled out any changes to the US military presence in South Korea for the time being.
Speaking at a press conference after his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Trump said US troops in South Korea will remain.
“We are not reducing anything,” Trump said when asked about security guarantees promised to Kim that could involve the reduction of US military capabilities in South Korea.
The US leader, however, said he hopes to consider taking US troops out of South Korea at some point in the future.
“I would like to bring them back home, but that’s not part of the equation right now. At some point I hope it will be, but not right now.”
North Korea has long taken issue with US troops in South Korea, accusing Seoul and Washington of training for an invasion. With the recent change in Pyongyang’s tone on denuclearization, skeptics had raised the possibility that Kim would demand US troops be removed at Tuesday’s talks.
At the press conference, Trump also revealed that the South Korea-US joint military exercises will be halted.
“We will be stopping war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money, unless and until we see that future negotiation is not going along as it should,” Trump said.
In a drastic change from his previous stance on the military issue on the Korean Peninsula, Trump added that he considers the war games “very provocative.”
Pyongyang habitually responds to regular South Korea-US military drills with vehement criticism of Seoul and Washington, accusing the allies of rehearsing an invasion.
Although the North appeared to take a softer approach following the visit of Seoul’s National Security Office chief Chung Eui-yong in March, Pyongyang had postponed a high-level meeting last month, having taken issue with an air drill. After Chung had returned from Pyongyang prior, he told South Korean media that Kim had an understanding about the military drills.
Trump also said that North Korea appears truthful in its commitment to denuclearization and Pyongyang had an understanding on the need to achieve the “complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement” of the nuclear program before the summit.
Regarding the matter of the term “CVID” not being included in the agreement, Trump said there was no time to do so and that Kim understood that is the condition demanded by the US.
He added that had he considered North Korea to be rejecting the conditions regarding CVID, no agreement would have been reached at the summit.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com)