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    South Korea and US Marines run to a position during a joint military drill at a fire training field in the southeastern port of Pohang on July 6, 2016

    Mattis: US Forces Withdrawal From Korean Peninsula Won't Be Discussed With North

    © AFP 2018 / JUNG YEON-JE
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Withdrawing US troops from the Korean Peninsula will not be on the table of negotiations with North Korea, Defense Secretary James Mattis said during a Senate hearing on Wednesday.

    "The presence of our forces there [South Korea] is a stabilizing presence… if during the negotiation this issue was to come up between our allies and us, that would be one thing between two allies, not a matter of negotiation with DPRK," Mattis said. "That’s not something that would be on the table in the initial negotiations."

    The withdrawal of US troops from the Korean Peninsula is for the people of South Korea and the United States to decide, Mattis said.

    Mattis had previously said in April that withdrawing US troops from the Korean peninsula would be discussed with allies if North Korea demanded it as part of reaching a peace agreement.

    Earlier in the day, US President Donald Trump said that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo returned to the US with three detained American citizens after talks with Kim Jong-un. 

    In April, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un announced that his country would stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles, as well as shut down a nuclear test site. Donald Trump had responded by saying that "big progress [was] being made."

    READ MORE: US Committed to Dismantling N Korean Nuclear Program Without Delay — Pompeo

    After North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a historic summit, US President Donald Trump said that he would hold a meeting with the North Korean leader in "the coming weeks."

    While the world is highly anticipating Trump's summit with Kim, the administration has not yet announced the exact time and location of it. The US president said, more information would be released in the upcoming days.

    Related:

    Trump, Xi Agreed to Keep Sanctions Against N Korea, Until It Stops Nuclear Tests
    N Korea Won't Need Nuclear Weapon If World Refrains From Hostile Policy - Kim
    China's Xi Jinping Met With North Korea's Kim Jong-un in China
    Tags:
    James Mattis, South Korea, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), United States
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