US President Donald Trump has said drawing down American troops in South Korea was not a part of negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, but stated that he would love to get American military out of the Korean peninsula.
In an interview broadcast on Wednesday, Trump said that a troop drawdown was "never discussed” during the historic summit with Kim in Singapore on Tuesday, apparently trying to calm the nerves of skeptics in America who blame the president of planning to give away too much to Kim in pursuit of a nuclear agreement.
"I am sure he would like that. It was never on the table. We sort of understood that was never on the table,” Trump said.
However, he reiterated his old desire to lower the American military presence in South Korea.
"I would love to get the military out as soon as we can because it costs a lot of money and a lot of money for us,” Trump said.
North Korea has long demanded US troops be removed from the Korean peninsula as part of a nuclear deal, but the US has been at pains to stress the issue is not a bargaining chip.
The US has about 28,500 service members stationed in South Korea.
Trump said at a press conference following the summit with Kim that the United States was stopping "very provocative” and expensive military exercises with South Korea to facilitate denuclearization negotiations with North Korea.
The United States and South Korea hold regular military drills to the fury of North Korea, which has long seen the drills as preparations to invade it.
"The war games are very expensive, we pay for the majority of them,” Trump said.
"Under the circumstances, that we’re negotiating... I think it’s inappropriate to be having war games.”
Following Tuesday’s summit, Trump and Kim signed a document described by the American leader as important and comprehensive.
The document says the US and North Korea "commit to establish [sic] new... relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity."