Posted December. 23, 2008 04:47,
The United States has reportedly asked Korea can redeploy its Zaytun unit to Afghanistan, military sources said yesterday.
Zaytun was recently pulled from Arbil in northern Iraq after four years of rehabilitation operations.
The United States has unofficially asked Korea to send troops to Afghanistan, but this is the first time for Washington to mention the name of a unit in repeating the request.
The sources said that when the Zaytun unit withdrew from Arbil to Kuwait Dec. 10-14, the United States asked if the withdrawing troops could go to Afghanistan via Multinational Forces Iraq.
A Korean official said his government has made no official reply, saying, It is important to pull our troops and bring them to Korea safely for now.
One military source said, The U.S. seems to want the Zaytun unit to set another successful example of civil military operations in Afghanistan, since it brought security and stability to Arbil over the past four years.
Another source added, Given the security conditions in Afghanistan, the U.S. hopes for elite military forces equipped with self-defense skills rather than civil agents like police.
When U.S. President-elect Barack Obama takes office next month and Afghanistan becomes the focus of the U.S.-led war on terrorism, Washington is likely to deliver a specific plan asking Korea to send troops.
After the U.S.-Korea summit in early August, U.S. President George W. Bush said the only thing he talked to President Lee Myung-bak about was non-combat help.
A high-ranking U.S. defense official told Korean correspondents in Washington Dec. 13 that more contributions from Korea are needed in Afghanistan.