South Korea Plans Partial Iraq Pullout

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
By JAE-SOON CHANG - Associated Press Writer
SEOUL, South Korea - (AP) South Korea plans to bring home
about one-third of its troops in Iraq next year, the Defense Ministry said
Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung reported the plan to withdraw about
1,000 troops from Iraq to the ruling Uri Party on Friday, the ministry said.

About 3,200 South Korean troops are stationed in northern Iraq to
help rehabilitate the country, making Seoul the second-largest U.S.
coalition partner contributing forces after Britain.
The announcement came a day after South Korean President Roh
Moo-hyun met with President Bush in the South Korean city of Gyeongju, where
the leaders insisted their countries' alliance was strong and agreed to work
together to curb North Korea's nuclear weapons ambitions.
The Defense Ministry said it will include the troop reduction plan
when it seeks parliamentary approval for extending the deployment in Iraq,
as it is required to do each year.
"We judge it's possible to withdraw some of the troops, considering
the scale of projects scheduled for next year, the status of stabilization
of Iraq and the trend in coalition forces," Yoon said in a meeting with the
ruling party, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.
South Korea's announcement caught the White House by surprise. "They
have not informed the United States government of that," said National
Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones.
The troop dispatch has been unpopular among South Koreans. Many
consider the U.S.-led war in Iraq unjustified, and the government had to
overcome protests from activists in accepting U.S. requests for troops.
There have been previous calls for reducing South Korea's troop
presence in the Gulf state.
In September, ruling party lawmaker Rep. Kim Sung-gon said about
1,000 troops should be withdrawn from Iraq "considering the worsening public
sentiment about the troop dispatch."
At the time, the ministry dismissed the comment, saying it was
nothing but a proposal presented by one lawmaker.