US Forces Korea Commander Gen. Robert Abrams reaffirmed Friday that the issue of the American troop presence in South Korea is not related to any potential declaration of an end to the Korean War or a peace treaty with North Korea.
His remarks came amid controversy over his congressional statement this week, which was seen as signaling the possibility of the US troop withdrawal -- or drawdown -- in the event that a peace treaty is signed with Pyongyang.
"USFK's presence remains a matter of the ironclad ROK-US alliance and is not related to any potential declaration of an end to the Korea War or peace treaty," Abrams said in a press release.
ROK stands for South Korea's official name, Republic of Korea.
"The United States and Republic of Korea firmly agree on the importance of USFK for the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and region," he added.
In response to a senator's question Tuesday, the commander said the 28,500-strong USFK will stay on the peninsula, "Until there is a peace treaty, because we still remain in a state of armistice, a cessation of hostilities, until such time that there is a peace treaty between all of the parties."
The remarks came amid concerns here about the future of the USFK in the event of denuclearization and the establishment of a peace arrangement to replace the armistice agreement.
Seoul has maintained a stance, at least outwardly, that the presence of the USFK, the centerpiece of the South Korea-US treaty alliance, is an alliance matter to be decided by separate dialogue between Seoul and Washington. (Yonhap)