Seoul, May 2 (IANS) President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday flatly dismissed the idea of US troops stationed in South Korea pulling out following a peace treaty that could be signed between the two Koreas, saying the issue has nothing to do with Pyongyang.
“US Forces Korea (USFK) is a matter of the South Korea-US alliance. It has nothing to do with signing a peace treaty,” Moon said, according to his spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom.
In a historic summit held at the border truce village of Panmunjom on Friday, Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to push for a peace treaty that would formally end the 1950-53 Korean War.
Moon’s remarks came shortly after his special adviser Moon Chung-in hinted at the possibility of a withdrawal, Yonhap news agency reported.
“What will happen to US forces in South Korea if a peace treaty is signed? It will be difficult to justify their continuing presence in South Korea after its adoption,” the President’s adviser said in an articled published on Monday by US magazine Foreign Affairs.
About 29,000 US soldiers are based in South Korea, under a security agreement reached after the war ended in 1953.
However, an official from the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae dismissed the possibility of US troop withdrawal, highlighting the role of USFK as a mediator.
“The government’s position is that the USFK is playing the role of a mediator between major powers surrounding the country, such as China and Japan. It is the government’s stance that the USFK is needed,” the Cheong Wa Dae official told reporters.
While North Korea has been vocally opposed to the US troops in the past and has been angered by joint US-Korean military drills, there was no mention of the issues in the Panmunjom Declaration reached at the end of the summit between the two Koreas.