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Wednesday, 29 November, 2000, 03:35 GMT
S Korea tackles US on army 'crimes'
Protest at a US bombing range near Seoul
Anger in South Korea over US soldiers' behaviour
Officials from South Korea and the United States are due to resume sensitive talks on resolving a dispute over the legal status of US troops accused of crimes.

About 37,000 American troops are stationed in the South to counter any threat from the communist North.

The two Koreas still remain technically at war, since their three-year conflict ended in 1953 in an armed truce and not a permanent peace treaty.

But the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which spells out the rights and responsibilities of US forces in South Korea, has come under increasing criticism in the South.

The biggest complaint centres on the legal jurisdiction of US troops accused of crimes.

Toxic spill

Currently, criminal suspects from the US military are turned over to the South Korean authorities only after their trial and conviction.

Seoul is also concerned about a string of incidents involving environmental pollution at US military facilities, including the dumping of gallons of toxic chemicals into the capital's main river, the Han.

Mae Hyang-ri - home to the biggest US bombing range in Asia - is the focus of a growing "Yankee Go Home" movement in South Korea.

South Korean protesters have fired paint bombs at the US embassy. Attacks on US servicemen have prompted the US command to issue a curfew for its personnel.

The feeling in Seoul is that SOFA is unfair and has helped to fuel a growing anti-American sentiment.

A revision of SOFA will help to remove what has proved an irritant in otherwise good relations between the two countries.

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See also:

20 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
US troops to stay in Korea
15 Sep 00 | Olympics2000
Korean athletes march as one
11 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
New steps towards Korean thaw
02 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Korean communists go home
16 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Koreas end propaganda war
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