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US military presence in SKorea has not legal grounds-Rodong Sinmun

November 24, 2011, 11:17 UTC+3

According to Rodong Sinmun, the US military presence in South Korea “deprives the Korean nation of the right to independent development”

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PYONGYANG, November 24 (Itar-Tass) — As part of its aggressive Asian strategy the United States “hopes to maintain its military presence in South Korea indefinitely,” according to a commentary published by the North Korea’s central newspaper Rodong Sinmun on Thursday. The authors have responded to recent remarks in Seoul made by US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta. Referring to the threat from the North, the Pentagon chief said that Washington has no plans to reduce its military contingent in South Korea, despite serious problems with the budgetary provisions, and promised full support to Seoul “in the event of new provocations from North Korea.”

According to Rodong Sinmun, the US military presence in South Korea “deprives the Korean nation of the right to independent development.”

At present, the publication indicates, there are tens of thousands of American soldiers and officers in South Korea for the presence of which “there is no legitimate reason.” In recent years, “demands have been voiced in the world for the withdrawal of US troops from bases located in foreign countries, and South Korea in this regard should not be an exception,” Rodong Sinmun believes.

Meanwhile, the commander of the US Seventh Fleet called the DPRK an “unpredictable country” and a “country of concern” at a recent press conference, the North’s Official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. Timed to coincide with this, the US secretary of defence blustered that as an ally of south Korea the US will brace up for possible provocation from north Korea.

Commenting on this, Rodong Sinmun Wednesday says in a bylined commentary: Their remarks amount to counterpropaganda of the aggression forces for the permanent presence of the US forces in South Korea. The US has so far groundlessly blamed the north for “threatening to invade the south” to justify its force's presence in South Korea. But threats have come from the south, not from the north in actuality and it remains the case.

It is the unchanged US scenario to stay in South Korea for an indefinite period and affect the Asia strategy for domination. The US is calling the DPRK a “country of concern” in an aim to contain the potential rivals in Asia-Pacific and maintain and strengthen its hegemony, according to the newspaper. The US policies for presence in South Korea and hegemony in the region are anachronistic.

Voices demanding the withdrawal of the overseas-based US forces are growing in different parts of the world. South Korea is not an exception. The aggressors had better stop counterpropaganda and go home.

There are 28.5 thousand US troops currently stationed in the Republic of Korea. The presence of American troops in South Korea was the legacy of the Korean War of 1950-53, which ended with the signing of a truce. As a result, formally the North and South are at war. Repeated requests made by the DPRK to sign a peace treaty instead of the armistice agreement have not been positively met in the United States.

United States Forces Korea (USFK) refers to the ground, air and naval divisions of the United States armed forces stationed in South Korea. Major components of USFK include the Eighth United States Army (EUSA), the US Air Forces Korea (USAFK), Marine Forces Korea (MARFORK), U.S. Naval Forces Korea (CNFK) Special Operations Command Korea (SOCKOR). As part of the Korean-American Combined Forces Command, it supports the United Nations Command (Korea). Army: 19,755; Navy: 274; Air Force: 8,815; Marines: 242. ROK-US agreed force level: 28,500.

The current commander of United States Forces Korea is General James D. Thurman, United States Army.

The forces were established right after the end of the Korean War in 1954. During September to October 2010 the United States, South Korea and other allied forces conducted a series of air and sea exercises in response to the sinking of a South Korean warship by North Korea.

According to the US department of state, for almost 20 years after the 1950-53 Korean War, relations between North and South Korea were minimal and very strained. Official contact did not occur until 1971, beginning with Red Cross contacts and family reunification projects. In the early 1990s, relations between the two countries improved with the 1991 “Agreement on Reconciliation, Nonaggression and Exchanges and Cooperation between the South and the North,” since known as the “Basic Agreement,” which acknowledged that reunification was the goal of both governments, and the 1992 “Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” However, divergent positions on the process of reunification and North Korean weapons programs, compounded by South Korea's tumultuous domestic politics and the 1994 death of North Korean leader Kim Il-sung, contributed to a cycle of warming and cooling of relations.

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