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Sunday, August 15, 2004

FT.com / Home Asia - 20,000 US troops to be moved out of Asia

FT.com / Home Asia - 20,000 US troops to be moved out of Asia:
20,000 US troops to be moved out of Asia
By Peter Spiegel in London
Published: August 15 2004 23:17 | Last updated: August 15 2004 23:17

US President George W. Bush will on Monday announce a draw-down of more than 20,000 troops from bases in east Asia as part of a reduction of 70,000 US personnel based overseas, officials familiar with the plan said at the weekend.

Although the Pentagon declined to provide details of where the reductions would be made, the announcement of the biggest restructuring of US forces overseas since the end of the cold war is expected to focus on South Korea where as many as 12,500 troops could be withdrawn. The 3,500-strong army brigade which moved from South Korea to Iraq this month is not likely to return.
The US had been in talks with Seoul for months, a senior state department official said, and the South Korean government had agreed to the move. One US official said the talks on withdrawals had been easier in Asia than in Europe because the US military presence had been a political issue for years. Anti-American protests in Seoul and on the Japanese island of Okinawa, where more than 18,000 US Marines are based, have become a regular feature of relations with the US.
The Pentagon has promised an $11bn modernisation plan to upgrade South Korean facilities as part of efforts to increase its capability, even though it is reducing troop levels."

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