President Donald Trump has asked the Pentagon to look at options for reducing the number of U.S. troops stationed in South Korea as he prepares to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
According to The New York Times, the U.S. currently has around 28,000 soldiers that are stationed on the Korean Peninsula. The White House still hasn’t made it clear if the plans will call for a full or partial withdrawal of troops.
However, some at the Pentagon are concerned that bringing troops home from South Korea ahead of Trump’s meeting with the North Korean leader could only create additional tensions with neighboring Japan, the Times reported.
Kim and Trump are expected to meet in the coming weeks as the U.S. pushes for the denuclearization of North Korea in exchange for lifting the sanctions. Meanwhile, Trump stated Tuesday that a date and location for the meeting will be announced in the next “couple of days.”
The President suggested Singapore and the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea as possible meeting locations.
North Korea has reportedly offered to end its nuclear program if the U.S. agrees not to invade the country in the future. But, some are skeptical of the offer, noting North Korea has previously made such overtures without following through. U.S. officials have urged caution over demands from North Korea to withdraw U.S. troops as part of negotiations.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis addressed the concerns last Friday when he said that the future of the American military presence might be on the table.
“That’s part of the issues that we’ll be discussing in negotiations with our allies first, and of course with North Korea,” he said. “For right now, we just have to go along with process, have the negotiations and not try to make preconditions or presumptions about how it’s going to go.”