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South Korea to send troops to Afghanistan

world Updated: Oct 31, 2009 07:56 IST

IANS
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South Korea will send troops to Afghanistan to protect its civilian aid workers there, WAM news agency reported citing the Korean foreign ministry.

The decision came as Seoul plans to increase the number of its reconstruction workers to at least 130 in the war-torn country and operate an independent Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT).

"The Afghan government has asked our government through various channels to expand support for the stabilisation and reconstruction of Afghanistan. In an effort to more actively participate in the efforts, South Korea has decided to expand the PRT," foreign ministry spokesman Moon Tae-young said in a statement on Friday.

Moon made it clear that the security forces will not take part in any kind of combat operation, except when it is needed to protect PRT members.

Ministry sources said the government plans to send hundreds of military and police personnel to Afghanistan in the first half of next year.

South Korea ended five years of military presence in Afghanistan in 2007 by withdrawing its 200-strong team of medics and engineers from the country.