S. Korea to finalize aid program for Afghanistan next week
The South Korean government will likely decide its aid program for Afghanistan, including whether to dispatch its troops to the country, as early as next week, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency said on Tuesday, citing an anonymous government official, Xinhua reported.
The government is weighing various options, including providing assistance to one of three regions in the war-torn Central Asian country, where no Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) are stationed, and will likely to make the decision as early as next week, the official was quoted as saying.
The program will also need consultations with the ruling party before being made public, the official added.
On possibility of sending troops to Afghanistan, the official said that if South Korea plans to form its own PRT, it obviously will be in need of personnel who can protect the team. As for sending troops or police, or both two to the country, is still under consideration, he added.
On Monday, South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan told lawmakers that the government will dispatch at least 130 civilian experts to assist the reconstruction operations in Afghanistan.
However, Yu ruled out the possibility of sending combat troops. He said in order to guard the South Korean reconstruction workers, the government will likely to send police or noncombat troops.
South Korea withdrew more than 200 military medics and engineers from Afghanistan in 2007 after dozens of South Korean Christian missionaries were kidnapped there. Two of them were killed.
Currently South Korea has a civilian medical team at a U.S. base in the country, and has promised to expand its contributions by providing more medical service and vocational training there.