Seoul top office: U.S. troops needed in South even after peace treaty

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday the presence of U.S. troops in South Korea has nothing to do with signing a peace treaty with North Korea.

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The president’s remarks came after top advisor on unification and national security affairs Moon Chung-in wrote in an article, published in Foreign Affairs, “It will be difficult to justify [U.S. forces’] continuing presence in South Korea” after the adoption of a peace treaty.

Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed in their Panmunjom Declaration last week the two Koreas would seek a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War and pursue a peace treaty.

However, the idea of a peace treaty has raised concern among security experts and opposition politicians, who say it could be deemed the equivalent of a non-aggression pact — which could remove the grounds for the U.S. nuclear umbrella and military forces to be present in the South.

Seoul’s presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said Wednesday that Moon, in a meeting with his top aides, denied the presence of U.S. troops has anything to do with replacing the current armistice treaty with a peace accord, No Cut News reported.

He also said the president’s remarks were conveyed to the special advisor, who was told not to cause confusion regarding Moon’s stance on the issue, Yonhap reported.

A senior presidential official told reporters the same day that U.S. troops will be needed in Korea, even after a peace treaty is concluded.

By Jennie Oh