[EDITORIALS]Troop talks remain delicateWhile the political establishment is reeling under the impeachment of the president, the troop dispatch to Iraq is still an urgent issue. Seoul and Washington agreed yesterday to send Korean troops elsewhere in Iraq, not Kirkuk as originally planned.
In the meantime, the United States asked Korea to agree with the idea of joint stationing and joint operation of troops of both countries in the Kirkuk area. But the Korean side expressed reluctance to do so because the safety of its troops will be threatened.
However, both sides agreed to change the location of South Korean troops’ deployment, which is necessary for the safety of our soldiers, especially if we consider the Defense Ministry’s analysis that 30 to 70 casualties would occur in six months if our troops were engaged in joint operations with the U.S. military in Kirkuk.
What’s important to note is whether the negotiations were smooth and reflected the spirit of the Korea-U.S. alliance. The reason we decided to send troops to Iraq was to preserve the strength of our alliance with the United States. If it were not for the special relationship between our two countries, the Korean government would have been less likely to send troops.
We hear from officials from both countries that there is discord between the two sides over the role of the Korean troops and the timing of their dispatch to Iraq. The United States is taking the attitude that it sacrificed American soldiers for South Korea, but Korea only seeks economic gains after the war and is reluctant to help the United States.
Despite numerous obstacles on the road to deployment, Korea made its decision so that the Seoul-Washington alliance would not be damaged. There will be numerous other issues, including a new location for the Korean troops, for both sides to consult with each other closely.
It is our wish that neither side hurts South Korea-U.S. relations by refusing to take into account the other’s situation.
Since we have decided on the dispatch, we must be careful not to be seen as selfish. And the U.S. side must realize that this is a difficult time for Korea because of the impeachment of the president.