Despite casualties: South Korea, Japan vow to continue troop deployment in Iraq
South Korea vowed on Monday to continue relief and reconstruction projects in Iraq despite a weekend shooting that killed two South Korean engineers and injured two others in northern Iraq.
The killings Sunday on a road near Saddam Hussein's ancestral hometown of Tikrit, north of Baghdad, came as Seoul was planning to send up to 3,000 troops to Iraq, besides hundreds of South Korean military medics and engineers already operating there.
The government held a special emergency meeting to discuss its reaction to the deaths.
"Despite the sacrifices of the tragic incident, the government will not give into violence and human killings and we will continue to make efforts to provide humanitarian aid and join relief and reconstruction projects in Iraq," Foreign Minister Yoon Young-kwan said.
The dispatch of troops to Iraq is unpopular with the South Korean public.
Speaking at an afternoon news conference after a meeting of South Korea's National Security Council, Yoon said the attacks were not entering into the equation.
"This incident will not affect the question of sending troops to Iraq," Yoon said. "Our decision to send troops to Iraq remains unchanged."
Meanwhile, Tokyo too expressed determination on Monday to continue dispatching forces to Iraq despite the weekend killings of two Japanese diplomats.
"There is no change in our stance," Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said.
"We must not be daunted by the intention of terrorists to halt the reconstruction effort and cause confusion," he added.
In the meantime, the bodies of the two Japanese diplomats have been flown to Kuwait and arrangements are being made for transporting them home, a Japanese diplomat said Monday.
Coffins containing their remains arrived early morning
Monday on a US military plane, the diplomat said,
He said the embassy was coordinating their flight home.
A Japanese Foreign Ministry official is expected to arrive
in Kuwait later Monday to receive their coffins. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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