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Rumsfeld Arrives in Seoul to Meet S. Korean Counterpart

US Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld flew to Seoul from Beijing, China, Thursday for annual security consultative meeting with his South Korean counterpart Yoon Kwang-ung.

The two defense chiefs are to attend the one-day 37th Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) on Friday, according to a rough schedule distributed by the South Korean Ministry of Defense (MND).

High on the agenda for the one-day meeting will be South Korea's moves to regain full operational control of its troops from the US Forces Korea (USFK) and take over major security roles from the American forces.

Before leaving on Saturday, Rumsfeld is also scheduled to meet President Roh Moo-hyun, Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon and other top Seoul government officials.

South Korea transferred the operational control of its military to the US-led UN command shortly after the Korean War (1950-1953) broke out in 1950.

South Korea took back the peacetime operational control of its forces in 1994 but its wartime control remains in the hands of commander of the USFK.

The US currently has 32,500 troops here, and will cut further 7,500 troops before 2008.

While, South Korea maintains 681,000 military troops, the world's sixth-largest military.

Seoul is Rumsfeld's second leg of his five-nation Asian trip, which will also take him to Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Lithuania.

(Xinhua News Agency October 20, 2005)


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