- 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
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