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ROK parliament approves troop dispatch to Iraq

PLA Daily 2004-02-13

SEOUL, Feb. 13 (Xinhuanet) -- South Korean National Assembly approved the government bill of dispatching more troops to Iraq on Friday, according to South Korean government official TV channel, KTV.

In the televised ballot, among the total 212 legislators present, 155 voted for the bill, while 50 voted against, 7 abstained. The South Korean unicameral parliament has 273 members.

South Korean government decided late last year to send some additional 3000 troops to Iraqi northern city of Kirkuk at the request of the United States. The troops will include at least 800combatants, according to local media reports.

The South Korean contingent will be the third-largest after the United States and England. In Kirkuk, which is famous of oil production, the South Korean troops will undertake independent operations, including for the troop's own security.

The bill designated a deployment period from April to end of the year. A rough estimate by the Defense Ministry put the deployment cost at about 230 billion won (197.5 million US dollars).

Also at the request of the US, Seoul had already sent some 500 engineers and medics to the Middle East country to attend the US-led reconstruction there.

The last time South Korea sent combat forces overseas was 40 years ago to Vietnam.

South Korean National Assembly was scheduled to discuss the bill and vote over it earlier this year. But due to strong opposition of some lawmakers who hold on anti-war stance, the ballot was delayed.

On this Monday, the Iraq troop dispatch bill was passed in the National Defense Committee of the National Assembly amid anti-war demonstrations in Seoul.

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