U.S. asks Seoul to extend deployment in Afghanistan, Iraq

Posted on : 2007-10-12 15:06 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST

The United States on Thursday asked South Korea to extend its military deployment in Afghanistan and Iraq, a joint statement issued after senior-level consultations between the two countries said.

But the South Korean official made clear Seoul's withdrawal from Afghanistan, scheduled for the end of this year, will go ahead as planned. Seoul is expected to submit a report soon to parliament on plans to conclude its mission in Iraq as well.

The U.S. request came at a meeting between its Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns and South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Shim Yoon-joe in Washington.

"Undersecretary Burns expressed U.S. appreciation for the ROK's deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan and said the United States hoped they could be continued," the statement said. ROK stands for Republic of Korea, South Korea's official name.

In a separate meeting with Korean reporters, Shim said his government has already made its decision on ending the Afghanistan mission.

"There are no moves to reconsider the decision as far as Afghanistan is concerned," he said.

He said South Korea would take into account the parliamentary resolution, the international expectations of Seoul and national interests in deciding the future of its deployed forces. "Such a review would apply only to Iraq," said Shim.

The meeting, officially named the U.S.- ROK Strategic Consultations for Allied Partnership, was held following last week's six-nation deal aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and an inter-Korean summit.

The statement said the two countries "evaluated positively the results of the inter-Korean summit as well as progress in the six-party talks, and hoped that they are mutually reinforcing."

A South Korean official, speaking on background not for attribution, indicated the topics discussed included explanations of some of the agreements made at the summit, such as the Korean peace treaty and confidence-building measures.

A declaration announced at the end of the Korean summit said Seoul and Washington would work together to formally end the 1950-1953 Korean War through a meeting of the three or four concerned parties.

The ambiguity over exactly how many and which countries would be involved in the peace process has fed speculation about whether China, one of the signatories of the Korean armistice, would be included.

U.S. President George W. Bush previously said he was willing to sit down with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to sign the peace accord, which could be understood as a three-nation process including Seoul, Pyongyang and Washington, the official said.

"We were not sure what China's position is, whether it wants to participate, which is why we said it could be either three or four," he said. "If Beijing does want to participate, then the process would naturally become a four-party process."

The official also indicated there would be consultations with the U.S. in implementing some economic cooperation projects agreed to at the summit.

"Some of these projects concern areas that are under joint South Korea-U.S. defense," he said. "We will be talking to the U.S.

side on these matters."

Shim also met with Pentagon officials and discussed the summit results and the bilateral military alliance. On Friday, he will meet leaders of conservative think tanks.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11 (Yonhap)

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