Published: Thu, November 21, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

US Mulls Withdrawing Armed Forces Brigade If South Korea Refuses Spending Hike

US Mulls Withdrawing Armed Forces Brigade If South Korea Refuses Spending Hike

"I understand that the U.S.is preparing to withdraw one brigade in case negotiations with South Korea do not go as well as President Trump wants", a diplomatic source in Washington with knowledge of the negotiations was cited as saying by South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.

Since then, Pyongyang has excoriated its neighbour over joint military drills with the United States and has suspended virtually all inter-Korean cooperation in recent months.

There are about 28,500 US troops now stationed in South Korea, which remains technically in a state of war with nuclear-armed neighbor North Korea following their 1950-1953 conflict.

South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper, quoting an unnamed United States diplomatic source, says that President Trump is considering withdrawing 4,000 U.S. troops from South Korea, and suggested the possibility of pulling out entirely, if South Korea doesn't pay massive cost-sharing increases that Trump is demanding.

"We are not threatening the allies for this".

The negotiations started after the South Korean government made an issue of Japan's export curbs related to three semiconductor and display materials.

Under U.S. law, the United States' troop presence in South Korea must not fall below 22,000 unless the Secretary of Defense justifies a further reduction to Congress.

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He said that while the USA is still open to talks, North Korea should seize the moment and not miss this opportunity.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The United States Special Representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, said Wednesday that he believed the United States should continue to park troops in South Korea when asked if it would continue to advocate for the presence of USA military personnel in the country if He was confirmed as undersecretary of state.

Biegun, who would still be in charge of North Korea even if he is confirmed for the deputy position, said Kim should grant more authority to the officials who negotiate on his behalf in order to make more progress. That does not mean that anyone has a free trip.

Chung Hae-kwan, director general for trade legal affairs and public relations at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, represented the South Korean government in the negotiations held at the headquarters of the WTO on November 20.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has rejected an invitation by South Korean President Moon Jae-in to a regional summit next week, Pyongyang's state media said Thursday, in a stark illustration of the dire relations between the neighbours.

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