Korea is expected to set up camp at the Bagram Airbase north of the capital Kabul when it sends more personnel to support the U.S.-led war effort in Afghanistan. Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan on Tuesday said Parwan Province, where the main Bagram Air Base is located, "is thought to be the most suitable area" for Korea's Provincial Reconstruction Team to be sent.
U.S. civilian personnel is already stationed there. South Korea plans to take the PRT to operate it on its own after a fact-finding group led by Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Yong-joon inspected candidate sites on Nov. 12-17.
Koreans are likely to take over from the Americans there because the top priority is on security rather than any active military contribution to the war. "Security is the most important factor. We prefer an area where the least combat action takes place," Yu told reporters Tuesday.
The U.S. Provincial Reconstruction Team is housed at the Bagram Air Base about 45 km from Kabul. The Eastern Command of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force is also accommodated there.
Bagram base is one of the safest areas in Afghanistan, with about 20,000 multinational forces from Egypt, France and Germany, as well as U.S. troops, stationed there, a diplomat said.
Twenty-five South Korean civilian personnel are already working at the Bagram base, but their number will increase to 85 in January. Based on the outcome of the fact-finding mission, the government will likely reach a final decision this month.