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Bush to study troop cuts in Korea

Posted January. 14, 2001 18:49,   


U.S. President-elect George W. Bush said he would examine the possible reduction of U.S. troops in Korea in consultation with South Korea and other allies if North Korea no longer poses a threat to its neighbors.

Asked if troop cuts would start if tensions eased on the Korean peninsula, he told the New York Times on Sunday that the question would be considered only subject to consultations with the Seoul government.

Washington believes the American forces in Korea contribute to regional stability and that a change in the situation would require the consent of its allies, Bush was quoted as saying.

It was the first time the president-elect mentioned the possibility of reducing the American military presence in Korea. During the presidential election campaign, Bush presented the defense of South Korea against North Korean aggression as a major American responsibility. On the question of whether the American troops in Korea and Japan are a bid to check China, Bush said that the U.S. forces help maintain the stability of Northeast Asia.

Referring to the negotiations the Clinton administration had with North Korea on discontinuing Pyongyang's development and export of missiles, the incoming president said any agreement with North Korea should allow the U.S. to verify its enforcement. Bush said President Clinton had briefed him on the talks with North Korea and that he was in favor of the idea of providing food aid to countries in need of such support. Clinton's comments suggest that the United States considers food aid as a way to resolve the North Korean missile problem.

Han Ki-Heung eligius@donga.com