Korea plans military aid to be sent to Philippines

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Korea plans military aid to be sent to Philippines

The Korean government announced yesterday that it is sending military engineers and medical forces to the Philippines, which is grappling with colossal damage from Typhoon Haiyan, one of the deadliest storms in the nation’s history.

“We have been asked by the Philippine government to dispatch medical and engineering military forces to assist in recovery efforts following the disaster,” said Kim Min-seok, a Ministry of National Defense spokesman, in a briefing. “The national security policy mediation meeting reached a decision to dispatch the Korean troops to the Philippines.”

The request from the Philippine government came Wednesday night and marks the first time that Korea is sending military forces to a foreign nation at that country’s request. It is anticipated that more than one battalion will be dispatched.

The ministry will send ahead a joint investigation team early next week to assess the situation in the disaster area and coordinate detailed plans.

That will be put to a vote at the cabinet meeting and will need final approval from the National Assembly, Kim added. The government plans to send the troops as soon as possible.

The Korean government earlier this week was reviewing a plan to dispatch more than 500 military personnel to assist in the recovery process. Relief efforts will include the deployment of landing ships and air carriers.

The Philippines is a long-time ally of Korea. The country deployed 7,420 soldiers during the 1950-53 Korean War, in which 112 of them were killed and 299 injured.

The devastating typhoon that slammed the central Philippines on Nov. 8 killed nearly 4,000 people and knocked down most buildings, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said in its latest bulletin.

BY SEO JI-EUN [spring@joongang.co.kr]

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