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Iraq Transition

S. Korea to pull troops from Iraq

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(CNN) -- South Korea -- a major supporter of President Bush's Iraq policy -- has announced plans to pull a third of its troops out of Iraq in 2006, a National Security Council spokesman said Thursday.

But spokesman Fred Jones said the move is part of a governmental process, and that there was "no official communication or notification" to the United States regarding the pulling of troops.

The South Korean Defense Ministry will submit the request for troop reductions to the country's parliament, a step that Jones described as much like introducing legislation on the floor of Congress in the United States.

"It still has to play out," Jones said. "It may or may not happen."

South Korea is the third-largest contributor of troops to Iraq behind the United States and Britain, deploying more than 3,000 soldiers.

Although the deployments were unpopular among South Koreans, Seoul saw them as vital gestures of support for an ally with 37,500 troops stationed in the south to deter North Korean aggression.

Bush is in South Korea this week for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

On Thursday, he spoke at a joint news conference with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun.

The two leaders have had extensive discussions on how to deal with North Korea's nuclear capabilities.

Bush said he felt like relations between the United States and South Korea "had never been better."

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