U.S. President Donald Trump has said that withdrawing American troops from South Korea was not on the agenda of his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnamese capital later this month, local media reported.
“No, it's not. That [troop withdrawal] is not one of the things on the table," Trump told reporters on Friday when asked if he would consider withdrawing some of the 28,500 troops from South Korea.
His remarks came a few days after phone call with his South Korean counterpart in which the duo discussed the Hanoi Summit set for Feb. 27 and 28.
During the phone conversation held on Feb. 19, South Korean President Moon Jae-in praised Trump for “peace-making efforts” with North Korea, a statement by the Korean presidency said.
The statement said that Moon praised Trump’s “ongoing novel, bold diplomatic endeavors for the sake of peace on the Korean Peninsula”.
“[I] expect the summit slated for next week in Hanoi to become a critical turning point that adds substance to agreements reached at the historic Singapore summit last June, which aimed to complete denuclearization, establish a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula and advance North Korea-U.S. relations,” the statement quoted Moon as having told Trump during the 35-minute phone call.
Trump and Kim are set to take forward the discussions on denuclearization and lifting of UN sanction on Pyongyang held during historic Singapore summit last June.
The statement quoted Moon as saying that South Korea can also play a role “in corresponding measures aimed at encouraging North Korea to take denuclearization steps”.
The South Korean president said that his government was determined to take on any role “should President Trump make a request, anything ranging from the connection of railroads and roads between the South and North to inter-Korean economic cooperation projects”.
“This would be a way to lessen burdens on the United States,” he added.
Moon said that it was because of “Trump’s unwavering resolve” that “difficult negotiations with North Korea have made headway up to this point”.
“Significant progress in inter-Korean relations is also attributable to your strong endorsement,” Moon told Trump over the phone call.
He noted over the past 25 years, numerous negotiations have failed to produce results, which only allowed the North to strengthen its nuclear and missile capabilities.
“You are now striving to overcome these unsuccessful diplomatic endeavors and seek a new diplomatic strategy for denuclearization and the establishment of permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula,” Moon told the U.S. president.
The statement said that Trump briefed Moon on the current state of preparations for the Hanoi Summit and the developments in negotiations with North Korea.
“The two leaders had extensive, in-depth discussions on concrete measures for cooperation to ensure the success of the upcoming second North Korea-U.S. summit,” it added.
By Riyaz ul Khaliq