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South Korea To Deploy Additional Troops to Kirkuk in late April

South Korea To Deploy Additional Troops to Kirkuk in late April

Posted December. 23, 2003 22:42,   


The government has decided to send a contingent of 3,700 troops to the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, starting next April, to help rebuild the war-torn country and stabilize its security.

The Seoul government finalized the decision to deploy additional troops to Iraq during a cabinet meeting at Cheong Wa Dae, presided over by President Roh Moo-hyun. According to the final decision, the South Korean troops will be staying in the northern Iraqi city from April to the end of next year. If the proposed period is to be extended, another proposal requesting it should be submitted.

The Defense Ministry plans to refer the proposal to the National Assembly on Wednesday, and the National Assemble will likely address it next January.

Lt. Gen. Kim Jang-su briefed the reporters on the delegates’ trip to Washington to coordinate the matter with U.S. officials, saying, “Consensus has been reached between South Korean and U.S. officials on that South Korean troops will independently take charge of Kirkuk, which is now under the U.S. Army brigade, and help reconstruct the war-devastated country.” He went on to say that the troops will be deployed next April since it takes time to organize the troops and to educate the soldiers about the Iraqi situation.

He added to say that the U.S military officials asked Korean troops to take charge of another area besides Kirkuk, but the South Korean delegates rejected it. The South Korean unit will be independently in charge of Kirkuk and are likely to be deployed around the five areas in which the U.S. Army brigade has been deployed.

The several hundred Korean army engineers and medics already operating in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah will move to Kirkuk in February before the additional troops’ dispatch to develop an affinity with the residents in the region.

The South Korean government will bear the entire expenses that the troop deployment might entail, and it is expected to cost around 230 billion won.

The military officials will dispatch a fact-finding team consisting of seven to eight officials to Kirkuk to inspect the conditions of the area as early as this week. They will also consult with the U.S. military officials regarding U.S. munitions assistance.

Jeong-Hun Kim Sang-Ho Yun jnghn@donga.com ysh1005@donga.com