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South Koreans Do ‘Remarkable Work’ in Iraq, U.S. Officer Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2006 – South Korean servicemembers deployed in Iraq the past two years have accomplished “some absolutely remarkable work” in the city of Erbil, a senior U.S. military officer said today.

Some 2,200 South Korean troops at Camp Zeitoun have built a hospital there that’s equipped with operating rooms staffed by 19 doctors and 15 nurses, Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, a spokesman for Multinational Force Iraq, told reporters at a Baghdad news conference. More than 40,000 Iraqi patients have been treated at the hospital, he noted.

The South Korean servicemembers are working every day to improve the lives of Iraqi residents in their area of operations, Caldwell said, noting he’d witnessed their handiwork during a recent visit to Erbil.

The South Koreans also opened a vocational training center for local Iraqis that offers computer and banking courses, as well as training in maintenance and repair of home appliances, generators and automobiles, he said.

The vocational center’s curriculum was chosen with input from local Iraqi officials to improve the local economy, Caldwell said. About 900 local Iraqis have attended classes at the center, he said. The South Koreans also trained some local Iraqis to teach the courses, so that the center would be self-sustaining, Caldwell said.

Industrious South Korean servicemembers also constructed 15 local schools, 10 primary health clinics, and 60 village water wells and water storage tanks, he said.

“The Multinational Force is grateful for the participation of South Korea in the coalition,” Caldwell said, adding that Erbil province residents are fortunate to receive South Korean-provided economic and reconstruction projects.

Erbil province has experienced an economic renaissance in recent years that’s been enabled by a stable security situation, Caldwell said. “Security and economic transformation throughout Iraq will go hand in hand,” he said. Iraq has abundant resources which should help it to get back onto a sound economic footing, he added.

The new Iraqi government recognizes that a vibrant national economy can greatly assist in stemming extremist elements, Caldwell said. Encouraging international investment in Iraqi enterprises “will foster not only employment for Iraqis, but also hope for this country’s future,” he said.

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