North Korea urges South Koreans to drive out US troops
SEOUL (AFP) May 19, 2004
North Korea on Wednesday urged South Koreans to drive all American troops from their country, a day after the United States announced a partial pullout.

"It is the greatest disgrace and misfortune for the nation that the US forces' occupation of South Korea still goes on in this century too," said Rodong Sinmun, the official daily of North Korea's ruling party.

Washington said Monday it would withdraw some 3,600 of the 37,000 US soldiers based in South Korea for up to a year's combat duty in Iraq.

The decision to remove troops defending South Korea underscores strains that have been placed on the US Army as it fights insurgents in war-torn Iraq.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said Tuesday the redeployment was part of a global realignment of US forces that has been under consideration for months. No decision has been taken on whether they would return to South Korea.

North Korea refers to US troops as an occupation force and urges South Koreans to embark on a course of full independence by kicking them out, the daily was quoted as saying by Pyongyang's offcial Korean Central News Agency.

"They should positively respond to the call of the era and the nation and force the cursed US aggressor troops to pull out of South Korea as early as possible through do-or-die anti-US resistance," it said.

North Korea has welcomed the results of the South's parliamentary elections last month, which gave the liberal Uri Party backing President Roh Moo-Hyun an overall majority and deprived the conservative Grand National Party of its status as the largest group in parliament.

"The people's struggle for the new against the old entered a turning phase through the 'general election," Rodong Sinmun said.

"Such reality sets forth more fundamental and vital task before the South Koreans. That is the withdrawal of the US troops from South Korea," it said.