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Government, Scale and Time for Reducing U.S. Forces Not Acceptable

Government, Scale and Time for Reducing U.S. Forces Not Acceptable

Posted June. 08, 2004 22:03,   


On June 8, Korea and the United States held the second day of the ninth round of the “Future of the ROK-U.S. Alliance Policy Initiative” (FOTA) talks, and discussed the pending problems between the two countries, such as the relocation of the U.S. military base in Seoul, but failed to reach an agreement.

Accordingly, there is concern that another discord over the Korea-U.S. alliance may occur in addition to the controversy over the timing of the fragmental pullout of the U.S. armed forces from Korea, to say nothing of a setback in the realignment program of the U.S. Forces in Korea(USFK).

The Korean government, in particular, on this day, regarding the measure of the reduction of USFK, disclosed, “Considering the possible war potential vacuum in Korea, the suggested reduction period concluding by the end of 2005 is difficult to accept,” predicting a fierce negotiation battle with the U.S. in the near future.

At the meeting with reporters at the Ministry of National Defense, a top governmental official stated, “The most important factor to be negotiated with the U.S. is the timing of the reduction.” He added, “The scale of reduction should not be regarded as already being settled at 12,500 troops.”

The presidential aide of national security, Kwon Jin-ho, also met with the reporters, and said, “Giving the impression that the government cannot help but accept the measure from the U.S. is problematic because it injures the people’s pride.”

At the tenth round of the FOTA conference, which is scheduled to be held in early this month or the end of next month, the Korean government is known to suggest its version of the “Bill of Reducing U.S. Armed Forces in Korea” to the U.S. side.

According to this, a U.S. governmental official currently visiting Korea stated, “Although the U.S. considers the end of 2005 as the time limit for the reduction, it can always be adjusted by reflecting the Korea’s opinion,” leaving a margin of negotiation as to the time of reduction.

As for these delays in the conference, a U.S. Department of Defense official, who visited Korea to participate in the FOTA conference, remarked, “If any agreement fails to occur within the upcoming several weeks, the parliamentary procedure and calculation of the national budget for the relocation of the U.S. military base in Seoul may face a deadlock.” He added, “The United States will lose the critical time of a year which is necessary for reducing the USFK in 2005 if this problem is not resolved within this year.”

On the other hand, the discord over the negotiation progress between Korea and the U.S. is expected to be aggravated because the Korean government is planning to connect the problem of the reduction plan of the 12,500 U.S. troops with the major issues of the Korea-U.S. negotiation, such as the realignment of the U.S. army second division and the revision of the Land Partnership Plan (LPP).