"At some point... I want to get our soldiers out. I want to bring our soldiers back home."
Speaking at a press conference Tuesday after his summit with North Korean President Kim Jong Un in Singapore, President Donald Trump said he wants to eventually end the decades-long US military presence on the Korean Peninsula.
Although Trump made clear that the withdrawal of the some 30,000 American troops in South Korea was not on the table at the moment, he said that he eventually hopes to bring them home.
"At some point... I want to get our soldiers out. I want to bring our soldiers back home," he said. "But that's not part of the equation right now. At some point I hope it will be, but not right now."
Trump added: "We will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money, unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should. But we'll be saving a tremendous amount of money. Plus, I think it's very provocative."
At the same time, Trump said economic sanctions against North Korea would stay in place.
Pyongyang has said it may denuclearize only under certain conditions, including the United States ending its military presence in the South and its regional nuclear umbrella.
The Trump-Kim summit was the first meeting of a sitting US president and a leader of North Korea. After a day of discussions, Trump and Kim signed
Trump had previously denied any plans for a military pullout from South Korea. Last month, he told reporters
"Troops are not on the table," he said at the time. He also denied a report by The New York Times that he had ordered the Pentagon to prepare plans from drawing down the troops.
According to The Times report, Trump was determined to reduce the decades-long US presence in South Korea, arguing that it is unfairly costly to the United States and has not prevented the North from becoming a nuclear threat.
Many in South Korea and the region are unsettled by the prospect of a US withdrawal. South Korean officials said North Korea is not demanding US troops be withdrawn. They said they want the troops to stay to stabilize the region even if a peace treaty is signed.
Trump called the document he signed with Kim "very comprehensive," and expressed confidence that North Korea would
However, some political observers, and even the president's own aides, have voiced concern that Trump may be overly eager to reach a deal and could end up giving up too much in exchange for surface concessions from North Korea. Others have worried that talks will inevitably fail over the mismatched expectations, enflaming US-North Korea tensions in a way that heightens the risk of war, nuclear or otherwise.