South Korea to Provide Practical Aid

SEOUL, April 17 (Chicago Tribune): South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said Thursday that the government will look for ways to extend practical assistance to Afghanistan.

Lee made the remarks after meeting Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. envoy at Cheong Wa Dae.

Holbrooke, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, arrived in Seoul earlier in the day.

The visit signals U.S. President Barack Obama's new strategy on the region. He asked for Seoul's cooperation in the fight against terrorism, South Korean officials said.

Upon arrival in Seoul, he met with Yu Myung-hwan, minister of foreign affairs and trade, and Kim Sung-hwan, senior presidential secretary for foreign affairs and security.

During the meeting with President Lee, Holbrooke explained U.S. plans on the terrorism-plagued countries.

Seoul has provided troops and financial and security aid since 2002. More than 300 medics and engineers in the Dongui and Dasan units carried out humanitarian and reconstruction operations before their pullout in December 2007.

Between 2002 and 2008, the country donated some $66 million to help reconstruct the terrorism-ridden nation. Last year, South Korea agreed to provide $30 million worth of additional assistance between 2009 and 2011. After the withdrawal of troops in 2007, South Korea has been contributing to reconstruction efforts.