Secretary of Defense James Mattis stated on Sunday that the approximately 28,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea are “not going anywhere.”
“I’ll say it again, I’m not making news here, the same thing — we’re not going anywhere. It’s not even a subject of the discussions,” Mattis told reporters aboard his plane, while returning from the Shangdi-la Dialogue in Singapore late last week.
“You know, obviously (the troops) are there because of security conditions 10 years ago, five years ago, this year,” he said.
“If five years from now, 10 years from now, it could be up for review, that would be between a democracy called the Republic of Korea and a democracy called the United States of America.”
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Regarding the upcoming anticipated talks between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Mattis said expect the ride to “be bumpy.”
He emphasized that “all negotiations are bumpy.”
Mattis met with several of his counterparts from the Indo-Pacific region while attending Shangdi-la Dialogue.
“In almost all of my discussions, but it was a surprising commonality about, you know, a complete verifiable, irreversible, removal of (weapons of mass destruction), of nuclear weapons and WMD,” he conveyed.
Mattis told attendees at the annual meeting of the importance of remaining unified during negotiations.
“We must remain vigilant,” he said, “and we will continue to implement all U.N. Security Council resolutions on North Korea” throughout the talks.
Trump told reporters last month that reducing the number of U.S. troops in Korea is “not on the table, absolutely.”
He added, “At some point in the future, I would like to save the money” by bringing troops home.
The United States has had troops stationed on the Korean Peninsula since the outbreak of the war in 1950.
According to the Heritage Foundation, the number peaked during the conflict at approximately 325,000.
Troop strength hovered between 50,000 to 60,000 during the 1960s and ’70s, and then dropped to 40,000 in 1980s and came down still further to 35,000 in the 1990s.
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