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South Korea to Send 3,000 Troops to Iraq - 2003-12-23

South Korea's government plans to send 3,000 non-combat troops to Iraq in late April, to help the U.S.-led coalition rebuild that war-ravaged country.

The military says the nine-month deployment will be centered in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. Parliament must still approve the dispatch. That is expected to happen soon, despite widespread public objection to the plan.

President Roh Moo-hyun's office says U.S. President George Bush telephoned the South Korean leader Monday to thank him. Mr. Bush's phone call came hours after a South Korean delegation returned from Washington, where details of the deployment plan were discussed.

More than 400 South Korean medics and engineers already are operating in southern Iraq.

In a related development, President Roh's office says the South Korean leader is expecting a visit next week from U.S. special envoy James Baker to discuss restructuring Iraqi debt.