Former Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell said on Thursday (local time) that the U.S. wants to withdraw U.S. troops from South Korea and Japan, stepping back from it engagement policy towards the Korean Peninsula ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November. North Korea threatened to scrap the military agreement signed with the U.S. in Singapore on the second anniversary of the historic U.S.-North Korea summit on June 12. There are rising concerns about prolonged tensions on the Korean Peninsula at least until the end of the year without momentum for dialogue with North Korea
The confidant of President Donald Trump told the German newspaper Bild on Thursday that U.S. taxpayers are against paying too much for the defense of other countries. “This is a hotly contested issue in the United States,” said Grenell. “Donald Trump was very clear, we want to bring troops from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, from South Korea, Japan, from Germany.”
A South Korean government source, however, said there have not been any official or unofficial discussions between Seoul and Washington on cutting the number of U.S. troops in South Korea. But there are speculations that the reduction of U.S. troops in South Korea will be an issue in the U.S. presidential election since the remark came from a Trump loyalist, who is known to join the Trump campaign. The move appears to be aimed at using the “America First” slogan again, which was very effective in garnering white votes four years ago, and lowering diplomatic risks that could act as a fatal variable in the presidential election.
Against this backdrop, a U.S. State Department official told Voice of America on Thursday, a day before the second anniversary of the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore that the U.S. is committed to engage North Korea in “meaningful negotiations,” suggesting that it will not proceed with nuclear negotiations with North Korea since it is difficult to produce outcome. The U.S. expressed its intention to maintain the framework of the Singapore agreement and maintain the status quo.
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