Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that it was too early to discuss cutting the number of US troops stationed in Asia and South Korea, amid increased tensions on the heavily guarded peninsula.
The top US diplomat insisted before any such moves could happen North Korea must first show a serious commitment to rejoining six-party talks on ending its suspect nuclear program.
Asked after meeting his South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se whether Washington would consider reducing its military presence in Asia if North Korea returned to the stalled nuclear negotiations, Kerry ruled out the idea.
“The mere entering into talks is not an invitation to take any actions regarding troops or anything else at this point. It would be way too premature to have any thought, or even discussion” along those lines, Kerry said.
“The only purpose of entering the talks is to come to an understanding regarding first the denuclearization and then following the denuclearization obviously whatever relationship might be appropriate.”
He also ruled out any idea of visiting isolated North Korea and meeting leader Kim Jong-un in the near term. Washington and Pyongyang do not have diplomatic ties.
Yun said South Korea was awaiting a “clear stance” on Pyongyang’s nuclear policy and “a halt to the sophistication of its nuclear weapons.”
“All of this has to be real. It has to lead to real solutions,” Yun said.