South Korean troops have returned home from
Afghanistan, ending the country’s five-year contribution to US-led forces there.
The pullout of 195 troops — mostly medics and engineers – was part of a pledge
South Korea gave to the Taliban to ensure the freedom of 23 hostages taken captive earlier this year.
South Korea had already announced its decision to withdraw the troops before the hostage crisis.
The Taliban killed two male South Korean captives before freeing all 21 others in August.
Despite the withdrawal, Seoul plans to send up to 30 people, including five soldiers, to Afghanistan in January to run a hospital that had been managed by South Korean troops at the US military base in Bagram, north of
Separately, South Korea has said it is preparing to pull out about 350 troops from
Iraq, out of nearly 1,000 it has deployed there, at the beginning of next week.
Roh Moo-hyun, the South Korean president, has said recently he intends to extend the Iraq deployment to boost his country’s alliance with the
US, but the deployment had been widely criticised.
An extension to the mission is subject to parliamentary approval.
A military official said that a plan to submit a motion to the legislature to extend the deployment was in the works, but was unclear whether lawmakers would endorse it.