Zaytun troops could stay on in Iraq

Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung on Monday publicly pondered keeping Korea's Zaytun Division in Iraq after its mandate expires at the end of the year. The unit's mandate was already extended for a year longer than originally planned.

"It appears Iraq will need multinational troops until the middle of next year to secure its own security and defense capabilities," Yoon told the National Assembly's Defense Committee. "It's highly likely we'll submit an extension motion at the end of the year."

Yoon also tried to calm fears over Seoul's scrapping of a joint operational plan with the U.S. for contingencies in North Korea including regime change, the so-called OPLAN 5029. "Even if we don't create OPLAN 5029 in preparation for a sudden change in North Korea, it's enough to develop just a concept plan since the government has the capabilities to deal with the problem independently," he said.