North Korea says Iraq troop move "flunkeyist treachery"
( 2003-10-22 00:33) (Agencies)
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) denounced Seoul as a "flunkeyist" traitor on Tuesday for agreeing to send more troops to Iraq, urged South Koreans to protest against the move and told them to vote against parliamentarians who back the decision.
In a statement bound to stir controversy in South Korea, a spokesman for the central committee of the North Korean "Kim Il-sung Socialist Youth League" described the South's decision as an unpardonable crime.
It was the DPRK's first reaction to Saturday's decision by South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun's administration to send more troops to Iraq to back up U.S-led forces there. Roh deferred a key decision on whether to include combat personnel.
"The US, which launched the war of aggression in Iraq, is reluctant to send its troops to its battlefields. Yet, the South Korean authorities are hurling fellow countrymen there, even spending the money collected from the South Korean people as taxes," the North's statement said.
"We bitterly denounce such act as a pro-US submissive act, flunkeyist treachery," it said. The official KCNA news agency published the statement in English.
It was unlikely to be a coincidence the statement was in the name of the DPRK's communist youth organisation. Many South Korean young people were against the US-led war in Iraq and oppose the sending of South Korean troops there.
"There is no reason for the young South Koreans to shed blood and meet tragic deaths in the far-off alien country for the sake of the US imperialist aggressors," said the DPRK's statement.
KCNA said the youth league described young South Koreans as being "...left to the tender mercy of the US imperialist aggression forces as their bullet shields...".
"The South Korean youth and students should not be taken in by the deceptive trick of the US imperialists and their followers but valiantly come out in the struggle against the anti-national troop dispatch," the statement said.
It urged all South Koreans to oppose the decision and "launch a dynamic mass movement to vote down all the national assemblymen, who are going against the people's will and getting hell-bent on the additional troop dispatch, in the next year's general election".
The National Assembly is South Korea's single-chamber parliament. There is a parliamentary election next April. Parliament will need to vote on what kind of troops to send.
The North's statement faintly echoed one from South Korea's most militant labour group, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, which said on Saturday it would organise protests.
Since May, about 700 South Korean medical and engineering troops have been working out of a US base in the Iraqi town of Nassariya. Replacements began flying out last week.
Last month, the United States asked Roh's government to send combat troops as well to help stabilise Iraq. South Korean media have said Washington wants Seoul to send about 5,000 troops.
Roh faces a tough political decision on the combat troops request, having to weigh strong public opposition to the war against Seoul's desire to shore up its military alliance with Washington because of North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
Roh said in an interview with Reuters last Friday it was vital to take thorough soundings on the public's view and the decision-making had been haunting him for days.
Latest opinion polls suggest a majority would support committing combat troops now the UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution aimed at getting multinational troops and cash to Iraq.
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