[EDITORIALS]Parties need to work on Iraq

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[EDITORIALS]Parties need to work on Iraq

President Roh Moo-hyun and the representatives of the four political parties met yesterday at the Blue House to reach an informal agreement on the issue of dispatching additional troops to Iraq. The government explained its position on sending 3,000 soldiers to work on restoration projects and maintaining public order, and the four representatives expressed their support. The meeting finally provided consensus on this social issue that had been a cause of major strife not only among the government and the political parties but society in general.
Considering the special nature of Korea’s alliance with the United States, Korea’s responsibility and stature in the international community, the question regarding the dispatch of additional troops to Iraq was not whether to do so, but how to do it and how many to send. Moreover, with neighboring Japan deciding to send combat troops to unstable regions in Iraq, at the point of stretching its post-war “peace Constitution,” the realities of international politics require Korea to choose a policy that would consider the position of its ally, the United States.
The government announced that it would soon hand over its final proposal on the issue to the National Assembly. Once the proposal is submitted, the four political parties must settle the matter without delay. The National Assembly must decide the issue as soon as possible so that the government can plan further details on the dispatch and make the necessary preparations.
It is regrettable to say that all four parties had until now shown nothing but irresponsibility, cowardice and short-sightedness on the issue of dispatching troops to Iraq. Even the de facto governing party, Our Open Party, had given the impression of not helping the government reach its decision.
All four parties must refrain from any politicking over the issue. Now that the president and the party leaders have reached an agreement, the government and the political sector must cooperate to persuade the public. Also, the government must conduct further negotiations with the U.S. government to ensure the maximum safety of our troops.
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