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S. Korea: Opposition Party Ends Boycott - 2003-12-03

An eight-day boycott that brought South Korea's Parliament to a standstill has ended. The main opposition party says it will return to work on Thursday. The Grand National Party (GNP) agreed to end the boycott after other parties promised a vote on a motion to override a presidential veto.

The GNP began the boycott last week when President Roh Moo-Hyun vetoed a bill to allow an investigation into allegations of campaign corruption in last year's presidential election. Despite being the dominant group in Parliament, it is not certain the GNP can gather enough votes to override the veto.

The Parliament last month overwhelmingly approved an independent investigation after three of the president's former aides were accused of graft and illegal fund-raising. President Roh was elected on a platform that included promises to clean up the country's money-influenced politics.

The parliamentary boycott had left in limbo the 2004 national budget, as well as the government's controversial plan to send more troops to Iraq.

President Roh on Wednesday urged lawmakers to quickly approve sending three thousand additional non-combat troops to help the U.S.-led reconstruction effort in Iraq. He says the troop deployment is necessary to make relations with the United States "closer than before" as both countries try to end North Korea's nuclear weapons programs and make security changes on the Korean Peninsula.

The president made the appeal at a breakfast meeting with members of Parliament who recently went to Iraq. The delegation has recommended sending more troops, in part to maintain good ties with the Arab world. About 400 South Korean non-combat soldiers are already in Iraq.

The deployment, however, has grown increasingly controversial, particularly since two South Korean civilian engineers were killed in Iraq and two were wounded Sunday in an attack. Two Japanese diplomats were killed on Saturday in northern Iraq.

Anti-war sentiment among the public - and opposition politicians - has been growing stronger in Japan and South Korea as the number of attacks on coalition forces in Iraq increases.