A+ A-

S. Korea to send troops to Afghanistan

TOKYO, Oct 30 (KUNA) -- South Korea announced a plan Friday to dispatch troops to Afghanistan with a mission to protect its civilian workers there, Seoul's Yonhap News Agency reported.
The planned dispatch of more than 200 soldiers and about two dozen police comes as Seoul works to expand its Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Afghanistan as part of efforts to play a bigger role in the international community, the report said.
South Korea has been under growing pressure to provide more contributions, commensurate with its national power and enhanced global status, to the troubled US-led campaign in Afghanistan, according to the report.
"The Afghan government has asked our government through various channels to expand support for the stabilization and reconstruction of Afghanistan. In an effort to more actively participate in the efforts, the (South Korean) government has decided to expand PRT," Foreign Ministry spokesman Moon Tae-young said in a statement.
"Police and troops will be dispatched as well only to safeguard PRT workers from terror threats," Moon said, stressing that security forces will not take part in any kind of combat except for when it is needed to protect PRT members.
The government plans to operate an independent PRT in an Afghan province, composed of about 130 civilians and 200-300 military personnel, the report said.
Currently, 25 South Korean medical staff and vocational training experts work inside the US Air Force Base in Bagram, north of Kabul, to help the US-led PRT.
PRT, in which civilians and military personnel work together, is a key part of the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan campaigning to stabilize and reconstruct the nation. (end) mk.ema KUNA 301119 Oct 09NNNN