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U.S. to keep 'operationally resilient' troops in Korea: official

The U.S. Department of Defense assured Sunday that it will maintain "operationally resilient and politically sustainable" troops in South Korea under a new long-term defense strategy.

"We will continue to maintain a force posture that is geographically distributed, operationally resilient and politically sustainable," a department official said in a reply to Yonhap News Agency's inquiry over the possibility of a troop level cut.

The U.S. has around 28,000 soldiers in South Korea, making the nation strategically important in countering China's military rise and North Korea's unpredictability.

South Koreans are paying keen attention to the future scale and operations of the U.S. Forces Korea in particular after Washington unveiled a plan last week to reduce the number of its ground troops and Marines.

Despite the decision, spurred by the end of the war in Iraq and pressure to cut defense budgets, the U.S. emphasized that its military would place more weight on the Asia-Pacific region.

"The U.S.-ROK Alliance is a cornerstone of stability in Northeast Asia and has never been stronger," the official said.

The U.S. will maintain the military capabilities "necessary to protect our interests, defend our allies, and deter potential adversaries from acts of aggression and intimidation," according to the official. (Yonhap News)

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