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U.S. troops must leave, says North’s mouthpiece

Mar 15,2018
North Korea’s state-run newspaper called on the United States to withdraw its troops from South Korea ahead of a summit between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump, accusing Washington of trying to invade Northeast Asia.

The Rodong Sinmun took issue with ongoing talks between Seoul and Washington over the renewal of a cost-sharing agreement for maintaining American troops in the South, saying the United States was “wasting” South Koreans’ tax money for its own benefit by insisting Seoul to pay a bigger share.

“South Korea-U.S. relations aren’t based on an ‘ironclad’ alliance,” a Korean version of the article published Wednesday read. “South Korea is a subordinate and U.S. imperial forces are the source of the pain and misfortune South Koreans are experiencing today.”

The article continued that South Koreans wanted U.S. forces withdrawn from their country because they were “threatening the peace and security” of the Korean Peninsula, adding Seoul was raging a “patriotic battle” to regain sovereignty from the U.S.

The article in the regime’s official mouthpiece comes as the country is testing the waters for a leaders’ summit with the United States.

South Korean envoys who conversed with Kim Jong-un last week in Pyongyang didn’t elaborate on what the North Korean leader was seeking out of talks with Seoul and Washington, leaving local media to guess what Kim might demand from both countries in return for reducing its nuclear stockpile.

The Rodong Sinmun article could be a hint that Kim may press Trump to withdraw American troops from the South, a scenario widely feared by local conservatives.

South Korea’s Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, who oversees inter-Korean relations, told the National Assembly last October that North Korea’s ultimate goal for developing nuclear weapons was survival - and to reunify the Korean Peninsula under North Korean rule. For that to work, analysts say, the North would try to kick U.S. forces from the peninsula, invade the South and hope its intercontinental ballistic missiles deterred the United States from coming to South Korea’s aid.

In a six-point agreement shared between the South Korean envoys and Kim, Chung Eui-yong, who led the delegation, cited Kim as saying he had “no reason to possess nuclear weapons if the military threat against North Korea was eliminated and its security guaranteed.”

Sue Mi Terry and Lisa Collins from the Center for Strategic & International Studies wrote in a recent analysis that North Korea’s idea of guaranteeing the nation’s security ultimately meant the removal of U.S. forces from the Korean Peninsula and the dissolution of the U.S.-South Korea alliance.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]