Seoul to hand PRT base to Afghanistan
By Kim Young-jin
Korea will hand responsibility of its base for reconstruction work in Afghanistan to Kabul next week as it phases down its rebuilding efforts in the war-torn country, officials here said Thursday.
The base in the Afghan city of Charikar has housed 150 Korean aid workers and police officers, called the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) since mid-2010. They are protected by 350 Korean troops stationed there.
The foreign minister official, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity, said the transfer would take place next Thursday. Most of the PRT workers will return home by the end of the year, he said.
The remaining workers will be stationed at a U.S. air base in Bagram to facilitate the transfer.
Up to 70 of the combat troops will remain to protect the remaining workers.
While the base has been the target of multiple rocket attacks, no casualties have been incurred.
Seoul has pledged $500 million in assistance over the next five years to Afghanistan, which will primarily go toward bolstering the police force and army.
Afghanistan is keen to build up relations with Seoul despite the drawdown, saying economic projects will be vital for stability in 2014 when NATO draws down its forces in the country.