'Total withdrawal'

The US is re-examining its forces in Iraq after improvements in overall levels of security this year.

South Korea sent 3,600 soldiers to Iraq in 2004, in what was then the largest deployment after the United States and Britain, but has been rolling back troop levels amid public opposition to the mission.

The country now has fewer than 600 troops stationed in the relatively safe Kurdish-controlled town of Arbil in northern Iraq.

The South Korean public is sharply divided over the issue of the deployment of its troops in Iraq.

The government is keen to bolster its ties with the US, which it sees as an important counterbalance to the threat from North Korea.