South Korea ruling party wants all troops withdrawn from Iraq30/11/2006 - 09:01:25
South Korea’s ruling party said today that it wouldn’t back government plans to extend the deployment of troops in Iraq for another year without an agreement for the eventual withdrawal of all South Korean forces from the war-torn country.
Earlier, the Uri Party had claimed the government agreed to the full withdrawal. But Noh Woong-rae, a party spokesman, said later that the government “hadn’t accepted or agreed” to their proposal to remove all troops from Iraq by the end of 2007.
He added, however, that the government would have to follow the parliament’s position since it requires lawmakers’ approval for any troop deployment.
The Defence Ministry said today a pull-out plan will be devised next year.
“We will set up a plan next year to successfully complete our mission, taking into consideration of the situation in Iraq and trends among other countries that have deployed troops,” the ministry said in a statement.
The deployment helps “strengthen the South Korea-US alliance and has positive effects on maintaining peace and stability on the Korean peninsula,” the ministry said.
South Korea sent almost 3,600 troops to the northern Iraqi city of Irbil in 2004 to support US-led actions there, but has been gradually reducing its presence.
The current contribution of 2,300 troops makes it Washington’s biggest coalition partner after Britain.
South Korean troops’ mission expires at the end of this year and the Defence Ministry plans to submit a proposal to parliament tomorrow to extend the mission until the end of 2007. The proposal also calls for a reduction of troops to 1,200.
In a meeting today with government representatives, the ruling party officials said they would support the government plans only with a commitment to end operations in Iraq by the end of 2007, Noh said in comments posted on the party website.
The ruling Uri Party has 139 seats in the 297-member National Assembly.
The deployment is unpopular among South Koreans, mainly due to security concerns. In June 2004, Islamic insurgents beheaded a South Korean civilian working in Iraq after Seoul rejected demands to withdraw its troops.
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