South Korea and US: Troops withdraw agreement

South Korea and the United States have agreed that U.S. troop strength in the Asian country will be reduced at a much slower pace than originally announced. The change came after intense pressure from Seoul.

In simultaneous announcements in Seoul and &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Washington Wednesday, the two allies said the deadline for withdrawing more than 12,000 U.S. troops from South Korea has been extended to 2008. That is three years later than originally planned, although still reportedly several years faster than Seoul desired, says Voice of America.

According to the Chicago Sun Times, the United States had previously said it would redeploy the 12,500 troops by the end of 2005, bringing the total remaining to about 24,500.

Some 3,600 U.S. troops have already redeployed this year from South Korea to &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Iraq.

The agreement also includes the transfer of certain missions from US forces to Korean forces, such as South Korean forces taking over security at the joint security area in the demilitarized zone, and the transfer of responsibility for rear area chemical decontamination to a special South Korean unit, a Pentagon statement said.

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