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OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Local officials have for the first time invited U.S. troops to play a major part in a local cultural festival held every fall outside the biggest air base in South Korea.

The event is set for 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at various locations in Songtan, the district outside Osan Air Base. Songtan’s Chamber of Commerce and the Songtan Special Tourism Association are sponsors.

To underscore this year’s American participation, the sponsors have named the event the Korean-American Friendship Cultural Festival.

“This festival is an annual event in Songtan, but Songtan people are living with U.S. servicemembers, so we decided to invite U.S. servicemembers,” said Lee Kyong-choo, head of the Songtan Chamber of Commerce.

Plans call for a variety of music, dance, and other performances by both local residents and U.S. airmen.

About 50 airmen will form ranks and march from the base main gate to the Songtan district office. The parade steps off at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. No band will accompany them.

Lee said he saw this weekend’s event as matching the spirit of the U.S. military’s Good Neighbor Program, launched earlier this year by the top U.S. military commander in South Korea in a bid to improve relations between U.S. forces and the South Korean public.

“Through this event,” said Lee, “I wish the relationship between South Korea and the U.S. would be solidified.”

Koreans will offer live music including pop, folk, jazz, and rap performances, and break-dancing. Other events include traditional Korean folk dancing, a fashion show and martial arts demonstration.

Farmers will exhibit livestock and have fresh produce for sale. Korean pottery and furniture also will be on sale. And a South Korean motor-paragliding team will demonstrate its skills in the skies over Songtan.

The Americans will set up food booths and put on entertainment to include dancing, a choir and a barbershop quartet.

Some events will be at the Shinjang Shopping Mall outside the air base main gate. Others are set for Songtan City District Office, which was Songtan’s city hall before Songtan merged with Pyongtaek City.

“We invite the Korean community to our base to see what we do during Air Power Day,” said 1st Lt. Tom Montgomery, a base spokesman, “and the Korean community has invited us to ... their community and we’re glad to participate.”

Lee said he plans to invite American participation at each future annual festival.

— Choe Song-won contributed to this report.

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