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South Korea to Send More Troops to Iraq

June 19, 2004|From Reuters

SEOUL — South Korea will start to deploy 3,000 troops to the Irbil area in northern Iraq in early August to help rebuild the Kurdish region, the Defense Ministry said here Friday.

The announcement caps months of debate in this nation over a pledge that South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun made to President Bush in October and that was approved by the parliament in February.

"The site is Irbil. The regional government there welcomed our troops and promised support," a ministry spokesman, Nam Dai Yeon, told reporters. "South Korea will make the best effort to help our troops conduct its mission for reconstruction and peace in a safe environment."

An initial contingent will be deployed to Iraq in early August, to be followed later that month and in early September by the main force, because of transportation problems and the need to build a base, Nam said.

Once the deployment is complete, South Korea will be the largest coalition partner, after the United States and Britain.

South Korea already has about 670 military engineers and medics in southern Iraq, and they will join the larger deployment in the north.

About half the troops are combat-ready forces.

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