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Trump came ‘really close’ to pulling US dependents from South Korea: Senator

Muslim Times(Web Desk) – US Senator Lindsey Graham says President Donald Trump once came “really close” to removing US military dependents from South Korea – a move that would have been read by North Korea as preparation for an imminent attack.

Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said Sunday that he and Trump seriously discussed the idea as “there was no dialogue going” with North Korea at the time.

The initiative was meant to send a signal that “we’re running out of time,” the senator said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Graham cautioned that “we’re not out of the woods yet,” but added that the renewed diplomatic talks have de-escalated the situation and bought time for denuclearization to happen peacefully.

Asked whether journalist Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear,” has provided an accurate account of the North Korean discussion, Graham said, “We were really close to having to make that hard decision.”

Woodward says in his book that Trump at one point drafted a tweet declaring the United States was going to pull its military dependents — family members of the 28,000 American troops stationed in South Korea — out of the country.

The tweet was never sent, Woodward claims, because of a back-channel message from the North Koreans that they would see the move as a sign the US was preparing to take military action.

The CBS host noted that Woodward reports in his book that Trump’s plan had created a profound sense of alarm within the Pentagon leadership, but Graham responded only that the president was “very frustrated with North Korea saying one thing and doing another.”

The senator said he warned Trump that removing the dependents “is the last decision you make” when preparing for war.

Woodward also reports that Graham, at a White House national security meeting last September, urged the president to encourage the Chinese to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and replace him with a military general “they control.”

The national security meeting was also attended by former national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

US tensions with North Korea have subsided to some extent since Trump and Kim held a summit in Singapore on June 12.

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