Force reduction on the agenda for next FOTA talks
August 6, 2004
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Negotiations about the proposed reduction of 12,500 U.S. troops in South Korea likely will begin in earnest on Aug. 19, officials said Tuesday in Seoul.
The proposed move, which would reduce by roughly a third the number of U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula, will be the focus of the latest round of Future of the Alliance, or FOTA, talks, which have been ongoing for two years.
According to Brig. Gen. Nam Dae-yeon, South Korean Ministry of National Defense spokesman, the next round of FOTA talks will be in Seoul and likely will last two days. U.S. officials confirmed the scheduled start date.
The talks would be the 11th round of FOTA discussions.
Under the troop reduction proposal, the U.S. military would take 12,500 servicemembers from the peninsula by the end of next year.
The South Koreans have said they will ask for that timeline to be pushed back.
The Korean delegation will “ask the U.S. to push the timeline back to 2006 or 2007 and to leave key forces here,” said an unnamed defense ministry official, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
During the last round of FOTA talks, held in Washington, the two sides finally agreed on the Yongsan Garrison relocation.
Under the new agreement, that move was pushed back by one year to 2008.
The latest negotiations also pushed up the time lines for closing about a dozen of the U.S. bases slated to be handed back under the Land Partnership Plan, an umbrella agreement on repositioning forces in South Korea.