Extension for some of Afghan team

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Extension for some of Afghan team

Korea’s cabinet approved a bill yesterday to extend missions for some of its troops protecting aid workers in Afghanistan by one year, to the end of 2013.

Some 150 Korean aid workers and police officers have been involved in a reconstruction mission in the northern Afghan city of Charikar since mid-2010, protected by some 350 troops of the Ashena Unit stationed there.

Under the revised bill, up to 70 combat troops will remain in the war-ravaged country to protect aid workers, collectively called the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) for another one-year term to the end of next year, while 289 members of the unit will be pulled out by the end of this year as scheduled.

The move came after the Seoul government agreed to extend the PRT mission by one year to the end of next year. The remaining troops will operate in the northern Afghan province of Parwan and around the Korean Embassy in Kabul, according to the Ministry of National Defense.

The Korean PRT base in Charikar came under a series of rocket attacks last year, but no injuries were reported. No such attacks have taken place thus far this year, said an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The cabinet also endorsed a bill to extend the deployment of Korean troops off the coast of Somalia and in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for one more year to the end of 2013.

The 310-member Cheonghae Unit has been deployed in the Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Sea since early 2009 as part of a global effort to tackle piracy in the region, and the Akh Unit, with 150 soldiers, has been in based in the eastern region of Al Ain in the UAE since 2011.

“The revision will be presented to the National Assembly soon for approval,” an official of the Defense Ministry said.

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