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Donald Trump. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Trump said he is not considering a U.S. troop reduction in South Korea Friday following the NYT report that he ordered the Pentagon to consider a drawdown. Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton denied it in a statement on Friday as well.

Why it matters: As Trump's planned talks with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un edges closer, concerns remain over what the U.S. will concede in negotiations to get North Korea to fully, verifiably, and permanently denuclearize. If troop reductions are on the table, U.S. relations with South Korea and Japan could strain, and the move could threaten their safety if North Korea isn’t truly on the path to peace and denuclearization.

  • To be sure: Last week Mattis suggested that U.S. troop presence is "part of the issues that we’ll be discussing in negotiations with our allies first, and of course with North Korea."
  • The backdrop: North Korea in the past has put up a drawdown of U.S. troops as a precondition for denuclearization.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
1 hour ago - Health

Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden's plan to accelerate the reopening of K-8 schools faces major challenges from a still out-of-control pandemic and more contagious coronavirus variants.

Why it matters: The longer American kids miss in-person schooling, the further they fall behind. But the uncertain state of the science on the role young children play in the pandemic continues to complicate efforts to reopen schools.

Focus group: Former Trump voters say he should never hold office again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Relief" is the top emotion some swing voters who used to support Donald Trump say they felt as they watched President Biden's swearing-in, followed by "hope."

Why it matters: For voters on the bubble between parties, this moment is less about excitement for Biden or liberal politics than exhaustion and disgust with Trump and a craving for national healing. Most said Trump should be prohibited from ever holding office again.

Updated 15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

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