SEOUL, South Korea — The United States has given South Korea formal notification it wants to remove about one-third of the 37,000 U.S. troops on the Korean peninsula by the end of 2005, U.S. and South Korean officials confirmed Monday.

The two allies, bound for more than 50 years by a military alliance against North Korea, are conducting the ninth round of Future of the Alliance (FOTA) talks this week in Seoul. The proposal to relocate about 12,500 U.S. troops was made at an unannounced meeting Sunday, a South Korean official said Monday.

The proposal would include the 3,500 2nd Infantry Division troops slated for a deployment to Iraq later this summer, said Kim Sook, director general of the South Korean Foreign Ministry’s North American Affairs bureau.

Kim made the comments at an afternoon news conference; Lt. Col. Deborah Bertrand, a U.S. Forces Korea spokeswoman, confirmed them later Monday.

The “concept proposal” included “a redeployment of 12,500 troops from the peninsula over the 2004-2005 time-frame.” That figure included the 2nd Brigade troops being sent to Iraq, Bertrand said.

“Details are being worked out as the process of consultation with the Republic of Korea continues,” she said.

The South Korean government would mull over the U.S. proposal before making a formal response, Kim said. “That is what the United States presented as their plan, and we are going to discuss from now on,” he said.

Details of the proposal were not made clear, though it would be the first major troop decrease since 1992. Last week, U.S. officials confirmed a similar troop reduction proposal was made last June but said South Korean officials — including President Roh Moo-hyun — asked that the request not be made public.

According to Kim’s account of the FOTA meetings thus far, U.S. officials have said the troop realignment is part of a global repositioning of U.S. force that would not weaken deterrent capabilities against North Korea.

In recent weeks, especially after 2nd ID’s Iraq deployment was announced, U.S. officials have stressed technological capabilities of its combined force with South Korea, not the number of boots on the ground. U.S. officials tout $11 billion in high-tech weaponry and equipment upgrades planned over the next four years.

Officials from both sides also will address moving Yongsan Garrison by 2006 and further consolidating or dismantling other U.S. bases in South Korea.

Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Lawless is leading the U.S. delegation at the FOTA talks.

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