May 13, 2009 11:47
The U.S. informally asked Korea to dispatch a military engineer corps to Afghanistan. A government source told the Yonhap news agency Tuesday that the Defense Department relayed its wishes via top officials at the U.S. Forces Korea and the Combined Forces Command.
The source said this could be regarded as an informal request for Korean troops to help reconstruct the war-torn country. The U.S. also hopes Korea will help train the local military and police force so the Afghan government can be more self-reliant in maintaining peace and order.
Seoul's defense and foreign ministries are now closely evaluating re-dispatching troops to the region. Korean non-combatant troops, consisting of engineers and medics, joined in reconstruction efforts in 2002 before withdrawing after a group of Korean missionaries were taken hostage by Taliban militants in 2007.
The issue may be discussed between Korea and the U.S. in the coming days as important military negotiations are to be held soon, including a meeting of the two countries' defense ministers in Singapore on May 30.
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