Tuesday, October 07, 2003

S. Korea, Turkey, and Japan

Turkey and Japan are sending troops to Iraq soon.

Turkey's government yesterday voted to ask Parliament to send soldiers to Iraq, a move that could ease the burden of U.S. operations there and help mend frayed relations with Washington.

If Parliament agrees, Turkey will become the first predominantly Muslim nation to contribute troops to the U.S.-led coalition. But many lawmakers who had opposed the war in Iraq rejected the idea of sending troops to aid reconstruction.

Hoping to win over critics, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was to address members of his party today ahead of a parliamentary vote that could come as soon as later that day.

In a related development, the Japan Times newspaper in Tokyo reported yesterday that Japan will dispatch an advance unit of troops to Iraq as early as December to support the rehabilitation of the country.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will outline the plan when President Bush visits Tokyo on Oct. 17.

South Korea may soon send troops as well.

A South Korean fact-finding team sent to Iraq to study security after a U.S. request for combat troops said Monday Baghdad and parts of central Iraq remained dangerous but the north and south of Iraq were stabilizing.

The United States asked South Korea last month to send combat troops to help stabilize post-war Iraq. South Korean media have said Washington wants about 5,000 troops and a decision by the end of this month. It has not said where it wants the force.

"Security-wise, Baghdad and central and north-central Iraq are still dangerous, but the north and the south are stabilizing and the danger of terror attacks is gradually decreasing," said Brigadier-General Kang Dae-young, leader of the mission.

Kang's 12-member fact-finding team, which presented its findings to President Roh Moo-hyun on Saturday, said the risk of attacks on non-U.S. troops and on soldiers engaged in humanitarian projects appeared to be minimal.


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