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US Has No Intention of Invading NK: FM

US Has No Intention of Invading NK: FM

Top United States officials are not pursuing a policy aimed at toppling the North Korean regime, Foreign Affairs-Trade Minister Yoon Young-kwan said on Monday (Sept. 29).

Speaking at the Asia-Europe Press Forum at the Shilla Hotel, the foreign minister who returned from the U.S. the day before, said his meetings with top Washington figures confirmed his belief.

"President Bush, Secretary of State Powell and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz all said they have no intention of invading North Korea," he said.

Although some within the U.S. administration are not ruling out the option, the view of major decision makers is quite different, Yoon pointed out.

Yoon met with Powell on the sideline of his trip to New York last week.

The foreign minister reiterated North Korea will give up nukes and receive economic aid if it is presented with a satisfactory comprehensive solution.

Pyongyang knows its economic and diplomatic isolation will deepen if it continues to develop nuclear weapons despite China¡¯s opposition, Yoon also said.

In the meantime, Powell said South Korea has indeed shown interest in dispatching troops for the postwar reconstruction effort in Iraq.

In an interview with ABC television Sunday, Powell said he expected to have a new resolution on Iraq ready for the U.N. Security Council within two days but is not counting on getting a large number of foreign troops.

"The South Koreans have also expressed their interest in the idea. So there are some nations around," he said.

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There were also serious conversations with Turkey and some mention on the issue with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in New York last week, Powell added.

"I would not suggest that we're going to get a huge number of troops. There aren't that many countries around with standing armies that are able to dispatch large formations around the world," he also said.

Despite President George W. Bush's U.N. speech underlining the need for international assistance for peace in Iraq, only two countries, Japan and Thailand, have decided to send more troops there for now.

Turkey and Pakistan are two countries leaning closer to the troop dispatch, out of the total 14 countries asked by Washington for soldiers.

It is reported that Seoul was asked by Washington earlier this month to contribute around 5,000 troops to Iraq. It is seen as leaning towards accepting the request in order to strengthen South Korea¡¯s bargaining power in the current nuclear crisis.

South Korea may cement a decision on the tricky issue by next month at the earliest, although Foreign Affairs-Trade Minister Yoon Young-kwan mentioned a broader timeframe of "by year's end."

President Roh Moo-hyun is to meet with U.S. President George W. Bush in Bangkok during the Sept. 21-22 APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit meeting.

The annual Korea-U.S. defense ministers' talks, the Security Consultative Meeting, is to take place in Seoul Oct. 24-25.

"The U.S. wants South Korea to make a decision quickly," Lt. Gen. Cha Young-koo said Sunday, upon returning from working-level consultations with U.S. counterparts Sept. 25-26 in Washington.

No detailed discussion on the number of South Korean troops or the areas they would be dispatched to were discussed, Cha said, as Seoul has not made a decision on the dispatch yet.

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