South Korean parliament approves sending troops for Iraq

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The Independent Online

South Korea's parliament today approved the government's plan to send 3,000 troops to Iraq in addition to the 465 military medics and engineers already in the war-torn nation.

South Korea's parliament today approved the government's plan to send 3,000 troops to Iraq in addition to the 465 military medics and engineers already in the war-torn nation.

The troop dispatch, approved in a 155-50 vote, will make South Korea the third-largest contributor to coalition forces after the United States and Britain.

South Korea hopes to send the new forces to the northern Iraqi oil town of Kirkuk before the end of April. The new deployment, likely to include special forces commandos and combat-ready marines, will be solely responsible for security and reconstruction around Kirkuk.

The earlier mission of 465 medics and engineers are in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah.

South Koreans have been divided over the sending troops to Iraq.

Supporters say the dispatch would boost South Korea's military alliance with the United States. President Roh Moo-hyun has said it was important for South Korea to contribute troops to the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq to garner U.S. support for peacefully resolving a standoff over North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

Critics say the war in Iraq was unjustified, and have protests near the National Assembly and the U.S. Embassy in Seoul.

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