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Gov't to Decide on Troop Dispatch To Iraq in Oct

Gov't to Decide on Troop Dispatch in Oct

The government is seeking to reach a final decision by the end of October on the United States' request for South Korean combat troops to help stabilize postwar Iraq.

¡°We will wrap up the matter by the end of next month taking various factors into account,¡± a senior Cheong Wa Dae official said on Tuesday (Sept. 23).

National security advisor Ra Jong-yil is set to visit the U.S. early next month to discuss the matter with officials, including his counterpart Condoleezza Rice.

Ra will attempt to iron out differences in opinions on the issue before a planned summit meeting between President Roh Moo-hyun and U.S. President George W. Bush on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting to be held Oct. 21-22 in Bangkok.

¡°We need to come to a conclusion on the matter before the APEC session,¡± the official said.

Defense Minister Cho Young-kil said the government will have an outline on the matter before officials begin the Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) in Seoul, Oct. 24-25.

¡°We will need to present our position on the matter by that time although it will not be the final one,¡± Cho said during a National Assembly inspection of the ministry.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is scheduled to attend the meeting.

The government is planning to hold a meeting of security-related ministers this week to discuss the troop dispatch.

An inter-ministry delegation will leave for Iraq on Wednesday to carry out a 10-day survey on the feasibility of the military assistance.

Another delegation composed of security-related officials will also leave for the U.S. to fine-tune policies on the matter. The delegation, led by Deputy Defense Minister Cha Young-koo, will also coordinate policies ahead of the Oct. 6-8 Korea-U.S. alliance meeting.

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