Report: Kim, Xi agreed U.S. troops should leave South Korea

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |  July 5, 2018 at 9:48 AM
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July 5 (UPI) -- Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to work toward the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Korea during their third summit in China, according to a Japanese press report.

The Asahi Shimbun reported Thursday the two leaders agreed to cooperate strategically on a shared objective of the removal of the 28,500 U.S. soldiers in the South, following the summit in Singapore where President Donald Trump described joint drills as "very provocative" and costly.

The Asahi's source, described as well versed in China-North Korea affairs, said Beijing and Pyongyang also agreed to bide their time and not rush negotiations with Washington.

The report comes a day ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to Pyongyang, his third known trip to North Korea.

China and North Korea see an opportunity to ask U.S. troops to leave if and when a peace treaty is signed.

A peace treaty, if reached between Washington and Pyongyang, would put an end to the 1953 Armistice Agreement, and would set the foundation for a North Korean argument in favor of troop withdrawal, according to the Asahi.

Following the signing of a potential treaty, Kim is likely to request Trump to withdraw U.S. troops, but could still leave options open, the way Kim's father Kim Jong Il did during his rule, the Asahi's source said.

Pyongyang's state-controlled news agency KCNA said last month Xi and Kim discussed "strategic and tactical cooperation" between the two countries.

The United States and South Korea have agreed to cancel large-scale exercises in August, but U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Vincent Brooks has said the training is being suspended to avoid unnecessary provocations, the Hankyoreh reported.

The decision was necessary to make way for diplomacy, Brooks had said.

Kim Jong Un also spoke favorably of Trump, and said Trump was "broad-minded" and "had guts," according to the Asahi.

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