June 08, 2020 12:37
The U.S. State Department on Friday bristled at Korea's suggestion of making its own decision in the face of pressure to join U.S. President Donald Trump's cold war against China.
Korean Ambassador to the U.S. Lee Soo-hyuck recently told Korean correspondents in Washington, "Now we can choose sides" between Washington and Beijing.
But a State Department spokesman on June 5 told Voice of America that Korea "already chose side when it abandoned authoritarianism and embraced democracy several decades ago. The U.S.-[Korea] alliance is strong and vital for regional peace and stability."
Lee on June 3 said that Korea does not have to restrict itself to an old framework of choosing between the two sides since it has developed enough power to play strategically to maximize its national interest.
Meanwhile, some Koreans are alarmed at news that Trump ordered the Pentagon to reduce U.S. troops in Germany by 9,500 by September, according to a New York Times report.
This sparked worries that Trump could also cut the number of U.S. troops in Korea amid a stalemate in defense cost-sharing talks here.
The number of U.S. troops in Germany will be reduced from the current 34,500 to 25,000. Some of the departing troops will be redeployed in other, more compliant allied countries like Poland, while others will return to the U.S., Reuters reported.
"The move... is in keeping with Mr. Trump's 'America First' vision of limited U.S. deployments overseas, and with his insistence that allies must shoulder more of the burden for their own defense," the NYT wrote.
The paper said that the move had "a whiff of politics and even personal resentment" due to Trump's tense relations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel over a variety of issues.
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