US to keep current troop levels in South Korea, defence chief Jim Mattis says after China visit
The US has 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis reassured South Korea on Thursday that the United States will maintain its current number of troops on the Korean Peninsula.
“The US commitment to the Republic of Korea remains ironclad, and the US will continue to use the full range of diplomatic and military capabilities to uphold this commitment,” he told Defence Minister Song Young-moo.
Mattis met with Song during a brief stopover on his way from China to Japan.
The US has 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea.
His stop carried a clear message of reassurance to South Korea following the sudden cancellation of a major joint military exercise planned for later this summer.
China won’t concede an inch, Xi Jinping tells US defence chief Jim Mattis on South China Sea and Taiwan
Mattis said the US commitment includes keeping “current US force levels” on the peninsula.
“The recent decision to suspend the Freedom Guardian exercise creates increased opportunity for our diplomats to negotiate, increasing prospects for a peaceful solution on the Korean peninsula,” Mattis said.
The military exercise was cancelled after US President Donald Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Song said Kim’s separate meetings with Trump and with South Korean President Moon Jae-in have laid the foundation for a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.
“If North Korea maintains its commitment to denuclearisation and proves its willingness with actions, we will continue to devise measures to build mutual trust and establish peace,” he said.