Pentagon Denies Report That U.S. May Pull 4,000 Troops From South Korea
The United States denied a South Korean news report that claimed that the U.S. was considering pulling back up to 4,000 troops from South Korea if it does not pay more for maintaining the 28,500-strong U.S. forces in deterring North Korean aggression, according to Reuters.
South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported the potential withdrawal of U.S. troops two days after the U.S. broke off defense cost talks, demanding that South Korea raise its annual contribution to $5 billion, more than five times what it pays now.
“There is absolutely no truth to the Chosun Ilbo report that the U.S. Department of Defense is currently considering removing any troops from the Korean Peninsula,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper echoed that opinion and earlier said he was not aware of any plans to withdraw troops from South Korea if cost-sharing talks failed.
Although Trump has said that the U.S. military presence in South Korea was “$5 billion worth of protection,” both sides are to blame for failing to reach a compromise on sharing the costs of the U.S. deployment.
“South Korea is among our most important alliance partners. That doesn’t mean anybody gets a free ride. We have a tough burden-sharing negotiation that we’re in the middle of with the South Koreans,” said U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun.