US, S Korea Agree To Pull
US Troops Out Of Seoul
SEOUL, South Korea (Reuters) - South Korea and the United States have agreed to pull out all American troops from Seoul as part of a global realignment plan of the U.S. forces, South Korea's defense ministry said Saturday.
The decision to move U.S. troops south, away from the border with North Korea, was taken on a request by Washington and after a meeting between the two sides in Hawaii, a ministry spokesman said.
The U.S. military presence in the center of the South Korean capital over the past 50 years has been a constant source of anti-U.S. sentiment in South Korea.
The ministry did not disclose details of the plan, which came a day after South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun named his foreign policy adviser and seasoned diplomat Ban Ki-moon as foreign minister.
Ban's predecessor, criticized by some officials as being too pro-American, quit Thursday in a dispute pitting pro-U.S. ministry officials against left-leaning presidential aides over South Korea's policy toward the United States and North Korea.
South Korea's military had wanted to keep some American troops in Seoul on security concerns, while anti-U.S. protesters demanded a withdrawal of all 37,000 U.S. troops from the country.
The U.S. troops have been stationed in South Korea since the 1950-53 Korean conflict.
The Korea Times newspaper said there would likely be only about 50 U.S. soldiers at a liaison office adjacent to South Korea's defense ministry building in central Seoul.
The land occupied by the U.S. forces would be returned to the Seoul metropolitan government, it said.
"We will make efforts to come up with steps in order for our people not to feel uneasy," said Assistant Defense Minister Cha Young-koo, the chief delegate for South Korea, in a local YTN television news. © Reuters 2004. All Rights Reserved.


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