The U.S. Department of Defense is confirmed to have conveyed to Seoul that the issue of U.S. troops stationed in South Korea is irrelevant with the North Korea-U.S. dialogue on denuclearization.
According to multiple officials in Seoul, the Defense Department clarified its official position regarding remarks made Tuesday by General Robert Abrams, commander of U.S. Forces Korea.
During a Senate hearing, Abrams was asked by Senator Angus King about the need for U.S. Forces Korea to deter North Korea's conventional military threats even after the possible elimination of the regime's nuclear threat.
The general’s response suggested that U.S. troop presence is necessary until a peace treaty comes, but that U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula may be reconsidered once such a treaty is signed. This led defense authorities in Seoul to seek clarification from Washington.
In conveying its stance, the U.S. Defense Department said that USFK and nuclear negotiations are separate and that it has not discussed or has any plans to pull out or reduce U.S. troop presence in Korea in relation to a peace treaty.