U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday that withdrawing troops from South Korea will not be discussed during his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Trump and Kim are set to meet in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Feb. 27 and
28 to discuss the dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
There have been concerns that the U.S. president will agree to draw down American troops in South Korea as part of a deal with the North.
"No, it's not, no. It is not a consideration," Trump said at a White House event, responding to a reporter's question about whether a drawdown is in the cards. "That is not one of the things on the table."
Pressed about what will be discussed, he said, "Oh, you want me to really discuss that now? Everything is on the table."
The two sides have been in negotiations to hammer out a deal ahead of next week's summit, the second between Trump and Kim.
At their first summit in Singapore in June, the leaders committed to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees from the U.S.
The second meeting is expected to produce more concrete commitments, such as the possible closure of North Korea's main nuclear facility in Yongbyon, partial sanctions relief for the North, and a declaration formally ending the 1950-53 Korean War.
At the same time there is skepticism North Korea will fully give up a nuclear weapons program on which it has staked its survival.
"I don't know if North Korea has made the choice yet to denuclearize, but the reason why we're engaged in this is because we believe there is a possibility," a senior U.S. administration official told reporters Thursday.
When a reporter confronted him about the official's remark, Trump deflected attention to the positive outcomes of his engagement with the North.
"If I were not elected president, you would have been in a war with North Korea," he said. "We now have a situation where the relationships are good, where there's been no nuclear testing, no missiles, no rockets."
He also cited North Korea's release of American prisoners and its repatriation of the remains of American soldiers killed in the Korean War.
"The families are so thrilled and so happy," he said. (Yonhap)