South Korea

South Korean minister says US troops likely to stay even if Trump is re-elected

Reuters

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South Korean minister says US troops likely to stay even if Trump is re-elected

JOINT DRILLS. South Korean and US troops take a group photo after a joint combat firing drills near the demilitarized zone separating two Koreas, in Pocheon, South Korea, January 2, 2024.

The Defense Ministry/Handout via REUTERS

The United States requires congressional approval to scale back the 28,500 troops in South Korea, says South Korean Unification Minister Kim Yung-ho

SEOUL, South Korea – The United States is unlikely to cut back its forces in South Korea even if former United States president Donald Trump wins re-election, the South’s minister tasked with matters related to neighboring North Korea said in a television interview.

In the interview transmitted on Saturday, January 6, Unification Minister Kim Yung-ho told broadcaster KBS this was because the US Congress had already decided the matter in a defense bill it recently passed.

“One of the concerns many people have is… the issue of any withdrawal of US troops from Korea” if Trump is re-elected, Kim said.

But December’s National Defense Authorization Act says the US administration requires congressional approval to scale back the 28,500 troops in South Korea, Kim said.

Strengthening ties between the United States, South Korea, and Japan would help overcome any political changes in the US, he added.

At Camp David last August, US President Joe Biden and the leaders of South Korea and Japan agreed to strengthen military and economic co-operation.

The comments came in Kim’s reply to a question on a Politico report that Trump was considering letting North Korea keep its nuclear weapons, and offering financial incentives to stop making new bombs – which Trump has denied as “fake news.”

“Recognizing North Korea as a nuclear power means that South Korea will have no choice but to develop nuclear weapons, and Japan [also],” Kim said, when asked about the views of some US experts.

These analysts argue that North Korea should be recognized as a nuclear state and call for disarmament talks.

Neither the United States or South Korea can accept the prospect of recognizing North Korea as a nuclear state, since that would trigger a domino effect leading to the collapse of the Non-Proliferation Treaty framework, Kim said.

The neighbors remain technically in a state of war since the Korean War from 1950 to 1953 ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty. – Rappler.com

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