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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Moving forces from the U.S. Army’s headquarters in Seoul will cost an estimated $2.9 billion to $4 billion, according to a new study.

The National Assembly’s budget office estimate, published Wednesday and reported by Yonhap news agency, said most of the money should be spent on new facilities in Pyongtaek, the chosen site for relocating 7,000 troops from Yongsan Garrison by 2007. The U.S. military has studied aspects of moving forces, but never publicly released a cost figure for the shift.

Talks on moving Yongsan Garrison have been intermittent since the late 1980s, with the move’s cost derailing negotiations. U.S. and South Korean officials are meeting Monday in Seoul for the ninth round of Future of the Alliance Policy Initiative talks, focusing on the financing issue.

By treaty, South Korea is required to pay for moving U.S. forces, although Congress has agreed to fund infrastructure upgrades at Camp Humphreys, the likely site for the relocated U.S. troops.

Under a 2002 plan to reduce the U.S. military’s footprint in South Korea, 18 posts will be vacated. The South Korean government will sell that land and use the proceeds to finance moving troops and facilities to lower-profile locations around the country.

While the Seoul government has indicated it would like to convert a vacated Yongsan Garrison into a park, no firm plans are set on future use of the 630-acre post, the last tract of wide green space in central Seoul, real estate now worth billions of dollars.

The United States also plans to move 14,000 2nd Infantry Division troops south of the Han River by 2008, although no definite schedule has been set. About 3,600 of those troops are scheduled to deploy to Iraq this summer; whether they’ll be replaced, or return to South Korea after the Iraqi deployment, remains unclear.

Defense Department officials have hinted at larger troops cuts in South Korea but have announced no specifics. The U.S. military has said it will spend $11 billion in the next three years on enhanced warfighting systems, compensating for fewer troops with better technology.

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