The United States should seriously think about stationing more troops in South Korea to deter further North Korean provocations, a U.S. expert and former White House security official said Tuesday amid high tensions over the North’s artillery shelling of a South Korean island.
“The single most important indicator, symbolic and significant indicator of U.S. commitment, security commitment to South Korea, has been its troop presence on the peninsula,” Georgetown University professor Victor Cha said during a speech at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“Even a symbolic increase in that troop presence will send a very clear message to North Korea and to China that there are real costs to continued North Korean provocations,” he told a forum of South Korean business leaders.
Cha, one of the best-known security experts on Korea, had served as the Asian affairs director at the White House’s National Security Council in the previous U.S. administration and as a U.S. negotiator in six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear programs.
About 28,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea to deter threats from the communist North, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving the two sides still technically at war.