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Pentagon chief Mark Esper says he never ordered U.S. troops pulled from S. Korea Updated: 2020-07-22 10:05:37 KST

U.S. defense chief Mark Esper made clear on Tuesday that he has not ordered any reduction in the number of U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, seemingly seeking to balance President Trump's desire to cut down the country's forces globally.
The remark came in response to a question about latest media reports on a possible reduction of the 28-thousand U.S. service members based on the Korean Peninsula, during a virtual seminar session hosted by London-based think-tank, the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
He also discussed the importance of the National Defense Strategy that he laid out upon taking office, which entails looking into every geographic combatant command, making sure the U.S. is optimized and positioned as well as possible.
Esper added that he will continue to look at making adjustments, in order to make sure Washington is optimizing its forces, not ruling out the possibility of cutting the number of USFK troops in the future.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Pentagon had presented to the White House options to reduce the U.S. troop presence in South Korea, as Seoul and Washington remain at odds over the issue of defense cost-sharing.
Esper also touched upon the need to cooperate with South Korea to bring about North Korea's FFVD, or final, fully verified denuclearization, and to sustain peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Kim Hyo-sun, Arirang News.
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