Posted December. 22, 2009 13:55,
NATO has invited for the first time a Korean military delegation to a meeting next year of countries sending troops to Afghanistan.
The dispatch of Korean troops scheduled for July next year will likely help expedite far-reaching military cooperation between Korea and NATO.
Multiple government sources yesterday said NATOs military committee invited Seoul to send a Korean representative to the meeting, which aims to coordinate the missions of countries deploying troops to Afghanistan and strengthening cooperation. The representative will likely be a general-level official.
A Korean government source said, The Korean troops to be deployed to Afghanistan will be put under the operational command of NATOs International Security Assistance Force, so the Korean representative will attend the meeting of countries sending troops to Afghanistan,
This will be the first time for the Korean military to discuss with NATO member states pending global security issues, including the dispatch of troops to Afghanistan and war on terrorism.
The source said Koreas attendance at the meeting will likely accelerate military ties with NATO, including Korean participation in the NATO partnership. The move is also expected to expand Koreas military diplomacy, which has focused on its alliance with the U.S., to cover Europe and raise the Korean militarys international status.
Another source said, Following the inauguration of the Lee Myung-bak government, the Korea-U.S. alliance was upgraded to comprehensive strategic alliance. As Korea actively participates in international security cooperation, including its decision to send troops to Afghanistan and fully join the Proliferation Security Initiative, NATOs assessment of Korea is changing.
If Korea expands the scope of its international activities, including the establishment of a permanent military unit for overseas deployment next year, it will help expand opportunities and the boundaries for Korea to take part in NATO-led global security activities in the coming years.