Go to contents

U.S. Seeks Bigger Korean Role in Afghanistan

Posted August. 06, 2008 06:44,   


U.S. National Security Council senior director Dennis Wilder said yesterday that the U.S. government seeks a greater role for Korea in Afghanistan if Seoul is willing.

Accompanying U.S. President George W. Bush on Air Force One headed for Seoul, Wilder told a news conference on the plane that Korea can enable democracy in other areas.

“We want to work on the 21st century strategic alliance between Korea and the United States,” he said. “The two leaders will talk about global issues, particularly those areas of the world where we are cooperating closely -- like Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“First and foremost is the security of the (Korean) Peninsula. Once we`re sure that that`s been done, then we hope South Koreans can also help in other parts of the world.”

Wilder hinted at President Bush asking for Korea’s additional help in Afghanistan in his summit with President Lee Myung-bak.

A diplomatic source in Seoul said, “The United States hopes Korea can help in a variety of forms, including sending police trainers to Afghanistan. But it will not officially request Korea to send troops.”

A Seoul official said, “The government is not considering sending troops to Afghanistan.”

Wilder said the two leaders will also discuss North Korea’s human rights and the July 11 shooting death of a South Korean tourist in the North. “Certainly the circumstances of the shooting of the tourist are disturbing. And (President Bush) would like to see the North Koreans have an open investigation into the matter that South Korea can participate in. So I think it is an important matter,” he said.

On removing Pyongyang from the U.S. list of terrorism sponsors, he said, “August 11 is the opening of the window for this; it is not a deadline. And unless we have from the North Koreans a verification protocol that is robust, then August 11 will come and go and there will be no change in the situation.”

President Bush arrived in Seoul yesterday afternoon for a two-day visit. He and President Lee will hold a summit today and issue a joint statement outlining a framework for the development of the Korea-U.S. alliance.

The two leaders will later hold a joint news conference and then attend a luncheon with their wives. Afterwards, President Bush will visit the headquarters of the U.S. Forces Korea for a troop event.

sechepa@donga.com swpark@donga.com