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UPDATED: 15:26, September 20, 2004
S.Korean military delegation heads for talks in Washington
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A South Korean military delegation has left here for Washington for negotiations on a US plan to downsize its troop level in South Korea, said a South Korean official on Monday.

The talks, named the 12th round of the Future of the Alliance (FOTA) forum, was due to be held from Wednesday and Thursday in Washington. The meeting is also a preparation for the upcoming annual South Korea-US Security Consultative Meeting (SCM).

Brig. Gen. Nam Dae-yeon, a spokesman at the Defense Ministry, said: "I believe the reduction of US forces in South Korea will be discussed at the talks".

South Korean Assistant Defense Minister for Policy Ahn Kwang-chan and US Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Richard Lawless willlead their respective delegation to the FOTA talks.

Washington has informed Seoul of its plan to slash one-third of its troops in South Korea, or 12,500 military personnel, by the end of 2005.

South Korean officials have requested that Washington delay its troop cut plan for more than one year, citing the standoff over the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.

The allies said they would finalize the US troop cut plan when their defense ministers hold the SCM in October.

The US has redeployed some 3,600 US soldiers originally stationed near the inter-Korean border to Iraq in August. Currently, some 33,900 US troops are deployed in South Korea.

Source: Xinhua

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