SEOUL • South Korean President Moon Jae In yesterday dismissed suggestions that US troops stationed in the country would have to leave if a peace treaty was signed with North Korea, Agence France-Presse reported.
Seoul and Pyongyang have remained technically at war since the 1950s but Mr Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed at a landmark summit last week to work towards a permanent treaty to replace a 65-year-old armistice agreement.
"US Forces Korea (USFK) is a matter of the South Korea-US alliance. It has nothing to do with signing a peace treaty," AFP quoted Mr Moon as saying, referring to the agreement under which 28,500 US troops are based in the South.
Mr Moon's comments came after a presidential adviser publicly suggested that the presence of US soldiers, sailors and airmen would be called into question if a peace treaty were to be agreed with Pyongyang.
The rebuttal came as the South's Defence Ministry confirmed that several US fighter jets had arrived in the country to take part in regular joint exercises, AFP said.
The F-22 Raptor stealth fighters last came to the South in December when Seoul and Washington staged their largest joint air exercise, days after North Korea test-fired a missile believed to be capable of hitting the US mainland.
Separately, North Korea has submitted a request for the opening of new international air routes with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a South Korean newspaper reported.
"North Korea requested opening of air routes that enable it to travel to multiple regions," an ICAO official said in a written interview with the Dong-A Ilbo. "We need cooperation from our member countries in the Asia-Pacific, European and North Atlantic regions." But the UN agency did not reveal details on the routes North Korea wants to open.