The new $717 billion defense policy bill restricts efforts to reduce U.S. troop numbers in South Korea, reflecting concerns the Trump administration might move to do so, Stars and Stripes reported.
The John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act, signed Monday by President Donald Trump, prevents the Pentagon from cutting the number of service members deployed to South Korea below 22,000 unless the Defense Secretary certifies it is in the “national security interest” and has “appropriately consulted” with regional allies, the military news outlet reported.
The United States has about 28,500 service members on the Korean peninsula, the news outlet reported.
Trump has indicated he would like to withdraw troops from South Korea to save money, declaring at his June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that “I want to get our soldiers out,” though he said it was not “part of the equation” during the talks in Singapore, Stars and Stripes reported.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and other lawmakers have criticized the idea of reducing troop levels.
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