Republic of Korea (ROK) President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday dismissed claims that US troops stationed in the country would have to leave if a peace treaty was signed with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Seoul and Pyongyang have remained technically at war since the end of the Korean War in 1953, but Moon and DPRK leader Kim Jong Un agreed at a landmark summit last week to work towards a permanent treaty to replace a 65-year-old armistice agreement.
“US Forces Korea (USFK) is a matter of the ROK-US alliance. It has nothing to do with signing a peace treaty,” Moon said, referring to the agreement that sees 28,500 US forces based in the ROK since the Korean War ended.
Moon’s comments came after a presidential adviser publicly suggested the presence of US soldiers, sailors and airmen would be called into question if a peace treaty were to be agreed with Pyongyang.
Moon Chung-in had written in Foreign Affairs magazine that it would be “difficult to justify (US forces) continuing presence in South Korea (ROK)” after the adoption of a peace treaty.
The Blue House – President Moon’s office – has warned the adviser “not to cause any more confusion,” with such comments, spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said.
The rebuttal came as Seoul’s defense ministry confirmed that several US fighter jets had arrived in the country to take part in a regular joint exercises.
However, there was no mention in last week’s declaration by Moon Jae-in and DPRK leader Kim Jong Un of the withdrawal of US forces from ROK. Kim and Moon Jae-in pledged to work for the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.
Moon Jae-in and Kim have said they want to put an end to the Korean conflict, promising there will be “no more war” on the Korean Peninsula.