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article imageOp-Ed: Report suggests Trump could withdraw troops from South Korea

By Ken Hanly     Nov 21, 2019 in Politics
The South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo quotes an anonymous US diplomatic source as saying that Trump is considering the withdrawal of 4,000 US troops from the South.
The source said that Trump is considering even withdrawing all US troops if South Korea does not agree to the massive increase in cost-sharing payments he is demanding.
As a Reuters article notes: "The report came two days after the United States broke off defense cost talks after demanding that South Korea raise its annual contribution for maintaining the U.S. contingent to $5 billion, a South Korean official said, more than five times what it pays now, in rare discord in the alliance." The break off is discussed in a recent Digital Journal article.
Some South Korean officials see the reports about US withdrawal as a bluff used as a negotiating tactic by the US.
Pentagon denies it is considering any troop withdrawal
A Pentagon spokesperson, Jonathan Hoffman, said: “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."
The US Defense Secretary Mark Esper also said earlier that he was not away of any plans to withdraw troops from the South if c cost-sharing talks fail. Stephen Biegun the US special representative to North Korea also said that he wants US troops to stay in the South but that no one gets a free ride.
US may still push for $4.7 billion annual payment
The US looks to be still staying with the $4.7 billion demand at least as a starting point for negotiations. However, the South Koreans may not be willing to settle for anything near that amount. The present payment is already a considerable increase on what they paid before which in turn was already a substantial amount.
South Korea and China sign defense deal
As a recent article notes China and South Korea just recently signed a defense pact: "The defence ministers of South Korea and China have agreed to develop their security ties to ensure stability in north-east Asia, the latest indication that Washington’s long-standing alliances in the region are fraying...Seoul’s announcement coincided with growing resentment at the $5 billion (£3.9bn) annual fee that Washington is demanding to keep 28,500 US troops in South Korea."
Trump often uses brinkmanship and threats in negotiations. The result in this case may be disastrous for US interests but could encourage the South to improve relationships with the North in order to avoid the exorbitant costs of relying on the US to defend it from any incursion from the North.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about US South Korea relations, donad trump, us troops in South Korea
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