The US is discussing with South Korea the possibility of redeploying some American troops in Seoul to Afghanistan after they re-adjust their South Korean tours, a top American military commander has said.
South Korea's defence ministry denied being in talks with its US counterpart on the potential deployment, which would mark the second time for US troops here to be sent to the Middle East.
"Certainly, that's something that we are looking very specifically at.
And, in fact, there have been forces that were here that went to Iraq," Adm Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), said, calling it "one of the issues in discussion with the Koreans.
"We're in discussion. No decisions with respect to that right now," he said, according to a transcript of his October 22 speech to a group of soldiers in South Korea.
The transcript is available on the JCS Web site.
Mullen was in Seoul last week, accompanying US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates and attending annual security meetings between the allies.
About 28,500 US troops are stationed here as a deterrent against North Korea, which remains technically at war with the two countries after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce.
According to Mullen, about half of the US troops here will be stationed with their families on two and three-year tours in seven to nine years under a tour normalisation plan.