Daily Memo: Strains in US-South Korea Ties

The government in Seoul has hinted at military drawdowns and abstentions.

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South Korea rebuffs the U.S. on military … South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook, apparently for the first time, hinted on Tuesday (but never said outright) that a drawdown of U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula may be on the horizon. Meanwhile, an assistant chief of staff for U.S. Armed Forces Korea wrote an editorial calling for changes in the existing command structure of the U.S.-South Korean combined defense system. … and on China. Also on Tuesday, one of South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s most influential advisers, Moon Chung-in, underscored Seoul’s reluctance to play a major role in the Quad, the informal grouping of India, Japan, the U.S. and Australia, or other aspects of the U.S.’ Indo-Pacific strategy to counter Chinese expansionism. He described China as a “strategic cooperative partner” and cited the risk of compelling Beijing, in conjunction with Moscow, to boost support for North Korea. Turkey and Russia: elusive cooperation. During a telephone call on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed a host of bilateral issues, including the conflict in Syria, peace talks in Libya and the ongoing feud in Nagorno-Karabakh. Erdogan suggested that they cooperate to resolve the latter crisis, but […]

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