중앙데일리

U.S. soldiers ‘vigilant,’ Ban says

Dec 24,2004
Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon thanked top U.S. military officials yesterday for the role U.S. forces play in South Korea, reaffirming that the government would extend the stay of South Korean troops deployed to Iraq.
Mr. Ban and a small group of Foreign Ministry officials visited Camp Red Cloud, headquarters of the U.S. 8th Army’s 2nd Infantry Division located in Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi province.
Arriving by helicopter with U.S. Forces Korea commander General Leon LaPorte, Mr. Ban was briefed on the unit by Major General George A. Higgins, the commander of the 2nd Infantry Division. Mr. Ban had lunch at the commanding general’s mess hall with 80 officers and soldiers.
“The purpose of my presence here today is to express, on behalf of the Korean people, our most sincere appreciation to all U.S. Forces Korea personnel for their vigilant duty here at the front line far away from home,” said Mr. Ban.
He said that such sacrifice and dedication have helped to rebuild South Korea “literally from ashes to a place where democracy and a market economy flourish.”
In regards to President Roh Moo-hyun’s recent visit to South Korean forces stationed in Iraq, Mr. Ban said that the South Korean government would likely keep troops there for another year.
The current mandate for the 3,600-strong contingent runs out at the end of this year, and the National Assembly is expected to vote soon on the mandate.
Mr. Ban also expressed sorrow for the 33 soldiers formerly stationed in South Korea who have died in Iraq. About 3,600 U.S. soldiers from the division deployed there in August.
“You are sending a clear and strong message to our soldiers about the deep respect and appreciation the Korean people feel for our soldiers’ commitment for the security and dedication to the vital mission here on the peninsula,” Major General Higgins said.
A miniature Indian head, similar to the shoulder sleeve insignia of the division, was presented to Mr. Ban along with tomahawks ― a symbol of the unit ― for his entourage. Mr. Ban also presented a plaque of appreciation to division leaders.


by Brian Lee


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