World Bulletin / News Desk
A New York Times article earlier pointed to inside sources claiming that American President Donald Trump has told the Department of Defense to review a reduction in the U.S. military presence in Korea, which currently stands at close to 30,000 personnel.
The newspaper reported that Trump is preparing ahead for a peaceful outcome after planned talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
An official peace treaty formally ending the 1950-53 Korean War, for example, might reduce the need for such a significant number of American troops to deter an attack from the North.
But Seoul's presidential office, which already insisted this week that U.S. forces would be needed regardless of peace on the peninsula, again moved to clarify the situation.
"A key official from the White House NSC (National Security Council) has said the report is not true at all," chief presidential press secretary Yoon Young-chan said in a statement carried by local news agency Yonhap.
The message was apparently relayed to President Moon Jae-in's leading security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, who is currently in Washington to help the U.S. gear up for the expected Trump-Kim summit.
Another factor potentially complicating matters is the ongoing negotiation over military cost-sharing between Seoul and Washington. Trump has repeatedly claimed that South Korea does not pay enough.