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South Korea Proceeds With Troop Deployment To Iraq


South Korea Proceeds With Troop Deployment To Iraq

The government will proceed with the additional dispatch of Korean troops to Iraq as scheduled while doing its utmost to secure the release of a Korean citizen kidnapped by an Iraqi militant group.

There will be no change in the government's position on additional troop deployment to Iraq since it was intended to help establish peace and reconstruct Iraq, according to the foreign ministry.

All South Korean businessmen are to be evacuated from Iraq by early July, following the recent kidnapping of the South Korean, Kim Sun-il in the Middle Eastern nation, according to the Commerce, Industry and Energy Minister Lee Hee-beom on Tuesday (June 22).

"Most South Korean businessmen have left Iraq and only 22 remain there," Lee told reporters ahead of attending a weekly Cabinet meeting.

The government called an emergency working-level session Monday (June 21) morning immediately after the Arab television network Al-Jazeera aired videotape from an Iraqi militant group showing hostage Kim Sun-il, 33. Then, an urgent session of the National Security Council was convened to discuss various measures involving the case.

Presiding at the meeting of his senior aides, president Roh Moo-hyun instructed the government to do its utmost for the rescue of Mr. Kim, asking the foreign ministry and other government agencies to gather as much accurate information as possible about the situation.

He also told them to explain and widely inform the Iraqi people that our dispatch of troops did not constitute any hostile activity toward the Arab world or Iraq but is an expression of our devotion to the cause of peace and reconstruction of Iraq.

Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon, now in Qingdao, China, attending the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) foreign ministers' meeting, will return home Tuesday, a day earlier than scheduled. Ban will meet with his Chinese and Japanese counterparts Li Zhaoxing and Yoriko Kawaguchi, respectively, Monday afternoon and ask for their cooperation in securing the hostage release.

The foreign ministry formed an emergency task force headed by Vice Foreign Minister Choi Young-jin early Monday. Choi called in Middle East ambassadors posted in Korea and asked for their cooperation in securing Kim's release. The ministry will also send a high-level envoy with negotiating experiences to Iraq for the rescue efforts. The Korean embassy in Iraq was contacting the Iraqi clerical association, the MFNC and the Iraq foreign ministry.


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