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US to Cut Number of Troops in South Korea in Coming Years

A senior U.S. Defense Department official says the United States is planning to reduce its number of troops stationed in South Korea.

The Pentagon official, who did not want to be named, said Monday the new plan will put South Korean forces in the lead in the event of war, with U.S. troops taking a supporting role. But, he said the troop reduction would not cut U.S. combat capabilities on the Korean peninsula.

The official said details of the plan are still being finalized, but the two countries hope to reach an agreement by late October.

There are about 30,000 U.S. troops currently in South Korea.

The Pentagon official said the United States would like the shift in military control to take place in 2009, but that South Korea has suggested 2012.

North and South Korea are technically still in a state of war because fighting in the three-year Korean War ended in 1953 with a truce instead of a formal peace treaty.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.