Singapore: The issue of US troops stationed in South Korea will not be "on the table" at a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong-un, US defense secretary Jim Mattis said on Saturday.
"That issue is not on the table here in Singapore on 12 June, nor should it be," he said at the Shangri-La Dialogue, a security summit in Singapore, referring to the scheduled date of the Trump-Kim meeting.
There are currently some 28,500 US forces based in the South.
Trump said on Friday that he will meet Kim for the historic summit as originally scheduled after extraordinary Oval Office talks with a top envoy from Pyongyang.
Trump told reporters that denuclearisation — and a formal end to the decades-old Korean war — would be on the table in Singapore.
However, Mattis stressed that "any discussion about the number of US troops in the Republic of Korea is subject to... the Republic of Korea's invitation to have them there, and the discussions between the United States and the Republic of Korea, separate and distinct from the negotiations that are going on with DPRK (North Korea)."
"That issue will not come up in the discussion with DPRK."
But he added, "Obviously if the diplomats can do their work, if we can reduce the threat, if we can restore confidence building measures with something verifiable, then of course these kinds of issues can come up subsequently between (South Korea and the US)."
In May, South Korean president Moon Jae-in dismissed claims that US troops stationed in the country — based on Seoul's alliance with Washington — would have to leave if a peace treaty was signed with the North.
Updated Date: Jun 02, 2018 11:10 AM