SINGAPORE, The Pentagon chief made it clear Saturday that his country is not negotiating with North Korea on the future of American troops stationed on the peninsula, as the leaders of the two sides will soon meet here each other.
Speaking at a security forum, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis stressed that the fate of the 28,500-strong U.S. Forces Korea is not an issue to discuss with North Korea.
"That issue is not on the table here in Singapore on the 12th (of June), nor should it be," he said after a speech at a Shangri-La Dialogue session.
Hours earlier, President Donald Trump met with Kim Yong-chol, a top North Korean official, at the White House. Following the meeting, Trump said he plans to meet with the North's leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12.
He said formally putting an end to the 1950-53 Korean War will be discussed in the summit. If realized, it would be a largely symbolic move but carry significant political implications in connection with the regional security landscape.
The Oval Office meeting is a highlight of a series of pre-summit consultations between the two sides taking place at Panmunjom on the inter-Korean border, in the U.S. and in Singapore.
The North has long claimed that the U.S. military presence in Korea is the major roadblock to regional peace and the reunification of the two Koreas.
Source: Yonhap News Agency