United States Forces Korea said Wednesday that it is committed to the plan to return its bases to South Korea, following Seoul’s announcement seeking the prompt return of 26 US bases.
In a statement, USFK said some of its military installations had already been cleared out for return.
“Fifteen of the 26 US military installations, including four sites specifically requested for transfer at the earliest possible date … have been vacated, closed and available for transfer to the RoK government as identified above,” the USFK said in a statement, referring to the Republic of Korea.
It added that five parcels of the Yongsan Garrison had also been vacated and were set for transfer.
The Korean government vowed last month to push for the early return of 26 American military bases.
After a National Security Council meeting Aug. 30, Cheong Wa Dae delivered the message in a statement that highlighted four USFK military bases -- Shea Range, camps Eagle and Long and parcels of Camp Market -- whose return has been slow due to the work of cleaning up polluted land.
It also said it would make sure to complete the process for returning the Yongsan Garrison, in the heart of Seoul, within the year.
As Cheong Wa Dae’s message came amid expressions of disappointment toward Korea from the US for withdrawing from a bilateral intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, speculation arose that Seoul’s announcement might have been aimed at pressuring or expressing dissatisfaction toward Washington.
Under several agreements, the two sides have been working to relocate all the US military bases to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province. Fifty-four of the 80 USFK military bases have been returned to Korean control so far.
On Friday, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha will visit USFK’s Osan Air Base and Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek and meet with USFK Commander Gen. Robert Abrams and US Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris, according to the Foreign Ministry.
By Jo He-rim (firstname.lastname@example.org)