South Korea undecided on military deployment

3,000 troops to help rehab 1 of 2 Iraq towns


SEOUL, South Korea - South Korea further delayed a decision yesterday on where in Iraq to dispatch more than 3,000 troops, waiting for formal approval from local Iraqi leaders, news reports said.

A government plan to send more than 3,000 troops to Iraq was approved by South Korea's parliament in February on condition that the deployment focus on rehabilitation in the war-torn country.

But deteriorating security in Iraq forced the government to drop an initial plan to send the troops to the northern town of Kirkuk as early as April, switching to the Kurdish-controlled northern towns of Irbil and Sulaimaniyah.

The government's National Security Council put off deciding yesterday between the two towns until leaders of the Kurdish autonomous region gives official consent to the troops, allowing them to use airports, YTN television said.

A spokeswoman of the NSC declined to comment and would not confirm whether the NSC had met yesterday.

YTN quoted a government official saying that the Kurdish autonomous government had been delaying an official response to the plan "because of complicated situations in Iraq."

South Korea's plan to send troops to Iraq has come under mounting attacks from politicians and human rights activists amid revelations of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the hands of U.S. troops.

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