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Pentagon: ‘NYT Story Is False,’ Trump Has Not Asked for Plan to Reduce Troop Numbers in South Korea

The Pentagon released a statement on Friday that called a New York Times story, which reported President Donald Trump is considering reducing the number of U.S. forces in South Korea, false.

The New York Times reported Friday that Trump requested plans from the Defense Department on reducing U.S. troop numbers in South Korea.

President Trump has ordered the Pentagon to prepare options for drawing down American troops in South Korea, just weeks before he holds a landmark meeting with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, according to several people briefed on the deliberations.

Reduced troop levels are not intended to be a bargaining chip in Mr. Trump’s talks with Mr. Kim about his weapons program, these officials said. But they acknowledged that a peace treaty between the two Koreas could diminish the need for the 28,500 soldiers currently stationed on the peninsula.

Mr. Trump has been determined to withdraw troops from South Korea, arguing that the United States is not adequately compensated for the cost of maintaining them, that the troops are mainly protecting Japan and that decades of American military presence had not prevented the North from becoming a nuclear threat.

The Pentagon has denied the report and says U.S. force posture in South Korea has not changed. Fox News reporter Lucas Tomlinson tweeted out the Pentagon's statement.

"The NYT story is false. The President has not asked the Pentagon to provide options for reducing American forces stationed in South Korea. The Department of Defense's mission in South Korea remains the same, and our force posture has not changed," the statement reads.

National Security Adviser John Bolton has also come forward with a statement that calls the Times report "utter nonsense."

"The New York Times story is utter nonsense. The President has not asked the Pentagon to provide options for reducing American forces stationed in South Korea," Bolton's statement reads.

On the campaign trail, Trump often criticized other countries for using the U.S. military for protection while not adequately compensating the U.S. in return. Back in March, Trump appeared to threaten pulling troops out of South Korea over the issue of trade.

"We have right now 32,000 soldiers on the border between North and South Korea. Let's see what happens," Trump said.