The Pentagon on Thursday morning vehemently denied South Korean media reports that it is planning to withdraw as many as 4,000 U.S. troops from the Korean peninsula.
The report, which appeared in South Korea’s The Chosun Ilbo newspaper and cited a “diplomatic source in Washington,” said the Trump administration is strongly considering withdrawing an Army brigade unless Seoul accepts an American demand for a 500% increase in defense cost-sharing.
South Korea will pay about $900 million this year to help cover the costs of the roughly 28,500 American troops stationed in the country.
The administration reportedly wants Seoul to pay as much as $5 billion.
While the administration has made clear it believes South Korea should pay more, Defense Department officials stressed Thursday that they have not begun planning for any troop drawdowns.
“There is absolutely no truth to the Chosun Ilbo report that the US Department of Defense is currently considering removing any troops from the Korean Peninsula,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement.
Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper “was in South Korea this past week where he repeatedly reiterated our ironclad commitment to the ROK and its people,” Mr. Hoffman continued. “News stories such as this expose the dangerous and irresponsible flaws of single anonymous source reporting. We are demanding the Chosun Ilbo immediately retract their story.”
Talks between the two sides broke down this week when American negotiators said their South Korean counterparts made failed to make a fair and equitable proposal.