Seoul: South Korea will maintain its troop presence in Afghanistan even if the forces sustain casualties after their planned deployment next year, the nation`s Defence Minister has said.
The Defence Ministry sent a motion to Parliament last week for approval of the deployment of as many as 350 troops to Afghanistan to protect its civilian workers helping to reconstruct the Central Asian state.
The motion, which is likely to be passed as the ruling party holds the majority in the National Assembly, would authorise a deployment from mid-2010 through the end of 2012 in Parwan Province.
The planned deployment comes amid debate over whether South Korea should take part in a war that many locals view as an American one. The debate heated up when the Taliban issued a warning last week threatening the safety of South Korean soldiers.
Speaking at a meeting with editorial writers from major South Korean news organisations, Defence Minister Kim Tae-young said the troops would stay put even if there are casualties after deployment.
"This is a matter of national standing, and we would have to overcome" public criticism that could arise if one or more South Korean soldiers die in an attack, he said, according to a Yonhap News Agency writer who attended the meeting in Seoul.