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S. Korea Won't Send Additional Troops to Iraq - 2003-11-13

South Korea's government is not likely to send more than 3,000 additional troops to Iraq. The troop commitment is far less than the United States has requested.

The chief spokesman of President Roh Moo-hyun on Thursday said Mr. Roh has instructed ministers to dispatch no more than 3,000 troops to Iraq.

Spokesman Yoon Tai-young says the order from the president was given at a meeting of security-related cabinet ministers on Tuesday.

The United States in September asked South Korea to send additional troops to Iraq. Seoul accepted the request in October, but made no decision on the number of troops or their mission.

South Korea already has more than 400 army engineers and medics operating in southern Iraq. A military official says they suspended their operations following Wednesday's deadly bombing attack on a base where Italians troops are stationed.

The suicide attack killed at least 26 people, including Italian policemen and Iraqi civilians.

The South Korean non-combat troops are stationed only about two kilometers from where Wednesday's attack occurred - an area that so far has been relatively peaceful.

The head of South Korea's joint chief of staff's overseas dispatch bureau, Colonel Yuk Heung-soo, says South Korean troops in Iraq will not conduct any support missions outside their unit until the area is stabilized.

Japan, meanwhile, on Thursday announced it was delaying any dispatch to Iraq of its Self Defense Forces until its officials review the security situation there and assess what role Japanese troops would play.

When President Bush visited Japan last month, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi promised him that SDF units would go to Iraq before the end of the year.

A Japanese government spokesman acknowledges that Wednesday's attack in Nasiriyah, near where Japanese troops would be based, factored into the decision to delay troop deployment until security conditions are investigated.

The leader of the opposition Democratic Party, Naoto Kan, says because attacks on foreign soldiers and civilians in Iraq have escalated, Japan should call off its planned dispatch.