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US to withdraw 11,900 troops from Germany: Pentagon

Photo taken on Feb. 19, 2020 shows the Pentagon seen from an airplane over Washington, D.C., the United States. (Xinhua/ Liu Jie)

The United States plans to withdraw 11,900 military personnel from Germany, reducing U.S. troops there from some 36,000 to 24,000, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said on Wednesday (July 29).

Among the U.S. troops that would be withdrawn, about 5,600 will be repositioned to other NATO countries, while the rest will be returned to the United States with some beginning rotational deployment back to Europe, the Pentagon chief told a news briefing.

Some U.S. forces currently stationed in Germany would be redeployed to Belgium and Italy, and others would begin continuous rotation in the Black Sea region, according to Esper.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper testifies before the House Armed Services Committee during a hearing on the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Budget Request from the Department of Defense on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., the United States, on Feb. 26, 2020. (Xinhua/ Ting Shen)

"We also plan on rotating forward the lead element of the Army's newly established V Corps headquarters to Poland, once Warsaw agrees to a Defense Cooperation Agreement and burden sharing details, as previously pledged," he said.

Esper noted that the Pentagon seeks to implement its plans "as expeditiously as possible," adding that redeployment could begin within weeks.

U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly complained that U.S. allies are exploiting the country on defense spending.

U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House in Washington, D.C., the United States, on April 27, 2018. (Xinhua/ Ting Shen)

Criticizing Berlin's "delinquency" on military spending, Trump last month ordered the U.S. military to withdraw 9,500 troops from Germany. "Until they pay, we're removing our soldiers," he said.

Dozens of House Republicans have voiced opposition to Trump's decision to reduce the country's military presence in Germany.

The reposition announcement came as relations between Washington and Berlin have become strained. The two allies have been at odds with each other on Iran nuclear issues, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, and defense burden-sharing, among other topics.

(Source: Xinhua News Agency)

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