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March 27, 2003
 
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(Reuters Photo)
S.Korean Parliament Vote on Iraq Postponed

Reuters


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March 27

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean political parties decided on Friday to postpone until next week a contentious parliament vote on the government's plan to contribute non-combat troops to the U.S.-led war in Iraq, legislative officials said.

The second deferral this week of the vote on President Roh Moo-hyun's proposed dispatch of 700 medical and engineering troops came after lawmakers opposed to the deployment presented a petition calling for debate, the National Assembly speaker said.

Roh's decision was welcomed by the United States, but has sparked street protests, including a break-in attempt at the U.S. embassy in Seoul by pro-North Korean students.

Within the 273-seat National Assembly, members of Roh's liberal ruling party have been less supportive of the troop deployment than the conservative opposition.

Roh called on parliamentarians to debate the issue and then "decide the issue by voting following rational procedures," his spokeswoman quoted him as saying after the postponement.

With a parliamentary election a year away, militant labor unions and left-wing civic groups are threatening to campaign to unseat those members of parliament who vote to send troops -- threats Roh criticized as "immoral actions."

"There are no impediments to citizens' groups appealing to the country through legal means," spokeswoman Song Kyung-hee quoted Roh as saying. "But they must avoid extreme and unreasonable steps or trying to influence opinions with threats," he said.

South Korea is one of the United States' closest allies, but public opinion is critical of U.S. policies toward Iraq and communist North Korea -- along with Iran, members of what President Bush has branded an "axis of evil."

In the streets of Seoul on Thursday, hundreds of teachers demonstrated against the war and the planned troop deployment, in the latest of days of rallies in which activists also said North Korea would be the next U.S. war target.


photo credit and caption:
A South Korean woman attends an anti-war protest near the National Assembly building in Seoul March 27, 2003. South Korean political parties decided on Mach 28 to postpone until next week a contentious parliament vote on the government's plan to contribute non-combat troops to the U.S.-led war in Iraq, YTN cable news reported. Photo by Lee Jae-Won/Reuters

Copyright 2003 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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