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Seoul to end Iraq mission next year
Wary of backlash from US leads South Korean government to do a diplomatic dance.
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2006 05:07 GMT
South Korea sent 3,500 troops to Iraq in 2004,
the largest contingent after the US and UK

South Korean troops are to "terminate their mission" in Iraq by the end of next year, the defence minister and the ruling Uri party have said.
 
Noh Woong-Rae, a spokesman for Uri, said: "The government reported to the Uri party that it will draw up a plan by the end of June to terminate the mission and wrap up the mission by the end of 2007."
Noh said that while the government had not "accepted or agreed" to Uri's proposal for withdrawal, it would have to accept parliament's position on troop deployments.
 
Kim Jang-soo, the defence minister, agreed that "the government will follow parliament's decision".
The Uri party is the largest party in parliament.
 
Noh said that "Uri decided to map out specific plans for the mission termination and set the deadline of the end of 2007 in the government bill".

In 2004 South Korea sent 3,500 troops to Iraq, the third largest foreign contingent after the US and Britain

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The mission for South Korean troops expires at the end of this year; the defence ministry plans to submit a proposal to parliament on Friday to extend the mission until the end of 2007.
 
The proposal also calls for a reduction of troops from 2,300 to 1,200.
 
Wary of a possible diplomatic backlash from the US, Noh said that the ruling party, not the government, would make a revision to the bill, so the government would only have to submit the bill to parliament.
 
Kim said "the government will only be able to draw up a pullout timetable later in consideration of the situation not only in Iraq, but also public opinion at home", noting that if parliament amends the bill and approves it, the government should follow it.
 
"The government does not use the term 'pullout' or 'withdrawal' because of the political and diplomatic pressure involved," Kim said.
 
In 2004 South Korea sent 3,500 troops to Iraq, the third largest foreign contingent after the US and Britain.
Source:
Agencies
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