South Korea extends troop dispatch in UAE

Park Hyong-ki in Seoul/The Korea Herald
Asia News Network

Seoul (The Korea Herald/ANN) - South Korean National Assembly's Defence Committee passed yesterday a bill allowing a time extension for the nation's troops stationed in the United Arab Emirates.

Some 150 South Korean soldiers will continue to carry on their duty of assisting their counterparts in anti-terrorism training in the UAE until the end of 2013.

The country sent its troops to the UAE in 2011 for a year in line with efforts to boost strategic partnerships between the two sides after Korea won its biggest nuclear power project deal.

The government's dispatch decision was followed with strong criticism that the country was using its armed forces as a reward for the UAE nuclear power deal.

The Defence Committee also passed yesterday a separate bill on the one-year extension of troop dispatch to the Gulf of Aden off Somalia to protect vessels from pirates.

Some 300 Korean soldiers have been operating in the region since 2009 participating in global security efforts to counter pirates that have often targeted international tankers as hostages for ransom.

Another bill passed by the committee calls for the gradual withdrawal of its contingent in Afghanistan, where Korea has been participating in reconstruction efforts.