Trump Should Inform Kim Jong Un that U.S. Will Not Abandon South Korea

Troy Young, April 12, 2018, 8:38 a.m.

U.S. President Donald Trump should make it clear to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that the U.S. is not withdrawing its military presence from South Korea, a former U.S. ambassador said Wednesday. Christopher Hill, a former top U.S. diplomat for East Asia and a former U.S. ambassador to Seoul, made the remark at a congressional hearing ahead of an unprecedented U.S.-North Korea summit slated for May or June.

"While President Trump is correct to respond positively to an invitation to meet Kim Jong-un, he should be guided by the need to avoid making any concessions that would suggest a weakening of the U.S. alliance commitment to South Korea," he said in a written statement.

Such concessions would include the withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Korea and a reduction of the pace and schedule of annual joint military exercises, he said. North Korea has been building its nuclear weapons program precisely to "cause the U.S. to decouple its security relationship from" South Korea, not to defend itself from what it calls security threats posed by the U.S., according to Hill.

"President Trump should reaffirm our commitment to our ally and work closely with China and others in the region, especially our other brave ally, Japan, so that North Korea does not miscalculate U.S. resolve, so that other allies in the region and around the world are reaffirmed in their confidence in the U.S., so that we are able to maneuver from a position of strength, and so that any solution is sustainable," he said.

Hill served in the 2000s as Washington's chief envoy to the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program.

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