Korea mulls partially extending mission in Afghanistan to 2014
Korea is considering extending its reconstruction mission in Afghanistan by two years, a move that would allow some 60 combat troops to continue to protect its aid workers in the war-torn country until 2014, a government official said Wednesday.
Some 150 Korean aid workers and police officers have conducted a reconstruction mission in the northern Afghan city of Charikar since mid-2010, protected by some 350 troops stationed there. Their mission is set to end at the end of this year.
South Korea plans to allow some of its Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) workers, mostly medical staff at the U.S. air base in Bagram, to stay there until 2014, when NATO troops pull out of Afghanistan.
"Because some PRT workers are planning to stay in Afghanistan until 2014, consultations are underway among relevant ministries to keep some troops there to protect them," the official said on the condition of anonymity.
The government is expected to ask the National Assembly in September to extend the withdrawal deadline for about 60 troops in Afghanistan, while withdrawing 290 troops and 100 aid workers by the end of this year as scheduled, foreign ministry officials said.
The Korean PRT base in Charikar had come under a series of rocket attacks last year, but no injuries were reported. No such attacks have taken place so far this year, ministry officials said. (Yonhap)