South Koreans protest Afghan troop dispatch

AP News
Posted: Nov 14, 2009 8:53 AM

About 200 South Koreans rallied Saturday to protest a government plan to send troops to Afghanistan, days ahead of a visit to Seoul by President Barack Obama.

South Korea pulled its troops out of Afghanistan in 2007 following a hostage crisis in which two South Koreans were killed. However, the government announced last month it intends to expand a South Korean team helping to rebuild the country and will dispatch police and troops to protect them.

Obama, who is considering whether to send more American troops to Afghanistan, is due in Seoul on Wednesday as part of an Asian trip.

The protesters chanted slogans and held up signs against the dispatch. They cited concerns about the safety of South Koreans in the war-ravaged country.

"We should not fall into the swamp of the U.S. anti-terror war," said Lee Jung-hee, a lawmaker with the opposition Democratic Labor Party.

No clashes with police occurred.

The planned troop dispatch is subject to approval by the National Assembly, where the ruling Grand National Party has enough seats to guarantee its passage.

Public sentiment is not in favor of sending troops to Afghanistan again.

Militants have attacked a South Korean company operating in Afghanistan three times since last month, but no South Koreans were killed, according to the Foreign Ministry.


AP photographer Young-joon Ahn and APTN cameraman Yong-ho Kim contributed to this report.