Pentagon offers WH options to reduce troops in S.Korea

Washington/Seoul: The Pentagon has offered the White House options to reduce American troop levels in South Korea, according to a media report.

Citing unnamed US officials, Yonhap News Agency quoted The Wall Street Journal report as saying on Friday that the options were presented in March following a broader review of options for withdrawing troops from around the world, including in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia.

The White House requested the review last fall, and by December 2019, the Pentagon had come up with broad ideas, the report said.

No decision has yet been made to reduce the number of US forces stationed in South Korea from the current 28,500, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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A US military official declined to tell the newspaper whether Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley has informed his South Korean counterpart about the review of troop levels.

The paper noted that the disclosure came as US President Donald Trump recently decided to partially withdraw troops from Germany.

Meanwhile, Seoul and Washington have struggled to conclude a new agreement determining how much South Korea will contribute to the cost of stationing American troops there, reports Yonhap News Agency.

Under the previous Special Measures Agreement, which lapsed at the end of December, South Korea agreed to pay $870 million for 2019.

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Trump initially demanded $5 billion for this year on the grounds that South Korea is a wealthy country that should pay more for its defence.

The US is currently known to be requesting $1.3 billion after Trump rejected Seoul’s offer to increase its payment by 13 percent from last year.

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