Troop reduction talks end without decision
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — American and South Korean officials ended the latest round of troop reduction talks this week without agreement on a U.S. proposal to remove 12,500 troops from the peninsula by the end of next year.
Before the 12th round of Future of the Alliance talks, held over two days this week in Washington, officials from both sides were hopeful that significant progress could be made on the issue. Some had predicted a framework agreement would be reached in time for the mid-October meeting between the two nations’ defense chiefs.
“There was no concrete agreement reached,” said Brig. Gen. Nam Dae-yoon, Ministry of National Defense spokesman.
A Pentagon news release issued early Friday confirmed the talks ended without a major announcement to be made.
“The two sides discussed ways to further strengthen the ROK-US Alliance and its combined defense capabilities, provide a stable long-term stationing environment for United States Forces Korea, and ensure a robust alliance for the future,” the release read.
“The net result of these talks will result in an increase in our collective deterrent capability on the peninsula and the region, and reinforce an already strong alliance.”
Officials from both sides remained hopeful a final agreement can be reached before the Security Consultative Meetings next month between U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and South Korean defense minister Yoon Kwang-ung.
In addition to reducing its troop numbers on the peninsula, the Pentagon is undertaking a plan to consolidate and relocate U.S. military installations. Within the next five years, U.S. officials hope to have the bases clustered into two hubs in the Pyongtaek and Taegu areas.