South Korea`s top general visits Korean troops in Afghanistan

South Korea`s top general said troops` mission would boost nation`s status.

Updated: Apr 28, 2011, 14:21 PM IST

Kabul: South Korea`s top general made a visit to heighten the morale of Korean troops deployed here, saying their mission for the NATO-led reconstruction projects
in Afghanistan would boost the nation`s status in the world.

General Han Min-koo, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made the unannounced visit this week to the Korean contingent stationed in this northern Afghan province of Parwan.

The 340-member "Ashena" unit is tasked with guarding Korean Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) workers who provide residents in Parwan with medical services, job training and other services. Ashena means "friend" or "colleague" in Parwan`s local language.

"The deployment of the Ashena unit means that our nation has evolved from an aid receiver to a donor," Han told the Korean troops.

"By carrying out your duties faithfully, I hope you can build our reputation overseas and improve joint operational capabilities with international forces," Han said.

Currently, there are some 300 government-assigned Korean aid workers and police officers stationed in hospitals and job-training centres in Parwan, according to JCS
officials.

During the visit, Han held talks with General David Petraeus, commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, and asked him to continue to support the Korean contingent, JCS officials said.

As part of his Middle East tour this week, Han also visited the United Arab Emirates, where some 130 Korean special forces are deployed with a mission to train the UAE forces.

South Korea sent the elite troops to the UAE early this year, mainly to train their Emirati counterparts and hold joint drills.

At the UAE port of Abu Dhabi where South Korea`s naval unit was staying, Han encouraged soldiers of the Cheonghae unit, JCS officials said. Since early 2009, South Korea has stationed the unit in waters off Somalia as part of international efforts to fight against piracy.

PTI