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N Korea at crossroads

Trump says 'never discussed' pulling troops from Korea

President predicts great economic potential for a nuclear-free North

South Korean and U.S. Marines take part in a joint landing drill in Pohang, South Korea, in March 2016. President Donald Trump refused to rule out the possibility of a future withdrawal of American forces there.   © Reuters

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump said Sunday he has "no plans" to withdraw American troops from South Korea, amid speculation that he could offer a drawdown to North Korea in exchange for progress on denuclearization.

"I've never even discussed removing them," Trump said in an interview with CBS.

But the president, who has long complained about the cost of maintaining U.S. forces abroad, refused to rule out the possibility of a future withdrawal. "Maybe someday," he said, adding that "it's very expensive to keep troops there."

Regarding his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump said he sees a "very good chance" that they could arrive at a deal. "He has a chance to have North Korea be a tremendous economic behemoth. He can't do that with nuclear weapons," he said.

"What a location," the president said, discussing North Korea's potential. "I'm in the real estate business ... They have a chance to be an economic powerhouse." 

Trump said the location and date of the summit would be announced either at his State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday or shortly before.

On the U.S.-China trade talks, he said, "If it is a deal, it's going to be a real deal. It's not going to be a stopgap."

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