Posted December. 23, 2009 14:40,
The ruling Grand National Party and the main opposition Democratic Party Tuesday agreed to delay deliberation of the bill on sending troops to Afghanistan to February next year.
While both sides locked horns over the approval of next years state budget, the floor leaders of the two parties agreed to delay deliberation and approval of the bill on deploying troops to Afghanistan to February for protecting a provincial reconstruction team there.
As a result, a general meeting of the parliamentary defense committee that was scheduled for Tuesday to review and approve the bill has been delayed to February as well.
A Democratic Party source said, Since the rival parties have many contentious pending issues including next years state budget, the two sides agreed to postpone the Afghanistan issue unconditionally.
The agreement entailed no specific details except for pushing back deliberation of the troop bill and was made verbally, so problems are expected in deploying the troops to Afghanistan.
Democratic Rep. Ahn Kyu-baek, secretary of the defense committee, told The Dong-A Ilbo, Since the security situation in Afghanistan is very unstable, the dispatch of Korean troops to Afghanistan requires more discussion and debate, adding, Well hold a parliamentary public hearing in January.
He implied that chances are low that his party will change its opposition to the dispatch even with the passage of time.
Voices within the ruling party also want the bill revised. Ruling party lawmaker Yoo Seung-min, who is on the defense committee, said, The suggested period of troop dispatch of two years and six months should be reduced to one year like other types of troop dispatch.
A snag is accordingly inevitable in the governments plan to get the bill approved by years end, send the troops by July, and launch construction of the provincial reconstruction team site.
A committee source said, Even if the bill is approved by the National Assembly in February, it will take a considerable period of time just to transport the equipment. So its uncertain when the troops will be deployed.
The Defense Ministry incited objection from the political circles to a certain extent by setting the suggested period of troop dispatch at two years and six months from the very beginning.