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Bush Urges S. Korea to Keep Iraq Commitment - 2004-06-22


President Bush says the beheading of a South Korean hostage by Iraqi militants is a barbaric act. Mr. Bush is urging South Korea to resist pressures to drop out of the Iraq coalition.

Word of the gruesome murder of the South Korean hostage reached the White House as President Bush was preparing to meet with the prime minister of Hungary.

When reporters were admitted at the end of the talks, Mr. Bush was asked if he fears South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun will drop plans to send thousands of troops to Iraq.

"I would hope that President Roh would understand that the free world cannot be intimidated by the brutal actions of these barbaric people," he said.

The hostage, Kim-Sun-il, worked for a South Korean company in Iraq and was abducted last week. President Bush said the Iraqi militants who murdered him were trying to shatter the international coalition.

"They are trying to get us to withdraw from the world so that they can impose their dark vision on people," he added.

His words brought a nod of agreement from the Hungarian leader. A soldier from Hungary was recently killed in Iraq, but Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy said his country would not withdraw its troops. He spoke through an interpreter.

"Our troops will not be removed before the term," he said.

Next week, NATO leaders will hold summit talks in Turkey with the situation in Iraq high on the agenda. The White House has said it does not expect an influx of NATO troops, but the alliance can assist the Iraqi people in other ways.

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