SEOUL — A report from a Washington-based research group says the U.S. Congress pays little attention to the relationship between the United States and South Korea, including the realignment of U.S. troops on the peninsula.

“Given the importance of the U.S.-ROK relationship to U.S. national security … the topic garners scant attention in Congress,” the report said.

The yearlong study, released in May by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said most members of Congress know little about what happens on the Korean peninsula, with the exception of North Korea’s nuclear threat.

“For those members who do think about the Korean peninsula at all, alliance issues are trumped by North Korea,” the reported quoted an unnamed Democrat as saying.

The study is based on interviews with dozens of Congress members and staff, as well as with American experts on Congress and former congressional staffers.

Most people interviewed said the United States should keep its military presence in South Korea, but some congressional staffers said the Pentagon had cut troop levels without enough consultation with South Korean officials.

“The Congress has basically left military/realignment issues up to the Pentagon, and it is not a big focus of discussion on the Hill,” a Democrat told interviewers.

The study said the relationship between the two countries — particularly strong after the Cold War — has become strained in recent years. Reasons for the strain include differences in opinion over what to do about North Korea, changes in how young South Koreans view their country’s relationship with the United States and changing U.S. global military strategies.

Among U.S. officials, there is “considerable uncertainty, if not distrust” toward South Korean leaders, the study said, because many “do not have a clear picture of the ROK’s long-term plans for its relationship with the United States.”

Still, most members of Congress and their staff have a positive view of the relationship between the two countries, the report said.

“The U.S.-South Korea relationship is going through a period of intense transition,” an unidentified Republican was quoted in the report. “We are friends, but not best friends.”

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