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US Might Ask Seoul for Sending Its Troops to Other Troubled Areas: Top US Envoy
US Amb. Kathleen Stephens Interviewed by Hangyereh
US Ambassador to Seoul Kathleen Stephens is being interviewed by Hangyereh Shinmun at the US Embassy in Seoul on Dec. 22, 2008. Photo Courtesy of Hangyereh Shinmun

US Ambassador to South Korea Kathleen Stephens left open the possibility that the Washington government might ask Seoul to dispatch South Korean troops to Afghanistan, a local daily reported on Dec. 25, 2008.

The top American envoy made the comment in an interview with the liberal Hangyereh Shinmun on Dec. 22, 2008.

Amb. Stephens also said that South Korea's Zaytun troops had made a big contribution in improving quality of life for Iraqi people.

She said that South Korean troops could also contribute to other parts of the world.

Discussion and cooperation between the Washington and Seoul governments is needed to realize that goal, she said.

At the request of the US government, about 8,000 South Korean soldiers of Zaytun Division were deployed in Iraq in September of 2003 for peace-keeping and rehabilitation missions.

Both local and international media reports said that Zaytun troops received positive responses from the Iraqi people, although some Iraqi resistance groups asked for their withdrawal.

Zaytun set up a military hospital in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil in 2004, and treated nearly 90,000 Iraqi people as part of the humanitarian work being done in that war-torn country.

On Dec. 20, 2008 the Seoul government withdrew all Zaytun troops from Iraq.

Amb. Stephens also commented on the South Korean government and the ruling GNP's (Grand National Party) expedited process for ratification of the free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States.

She said that the FTA ratification by South Korea's National Assembly could serve as an important signal for the Washington government.

Amb. Stephens quoted the US Congressmen who recently visited South Korea as saying that it is not up to the US when and how South Korea ratifies the agreement.

She refrained from commenting in detail on the possibility of a US-North Korea summit meeting upon Barack Obama's administration settling in.

Amb. Stephens said that the foreign policy of Obama's administration will focus on methods to achieve its goals of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and normalization of ties between Washington and Pyongyang.

The new US administration will try to maintain the basic structure of the six-party talks while striving to consolidate its alliances with the Seoul government, she said.


Who Is Kathleen Stephens?
From Wikipedia

Ms. Kathleen Stephens, 1st Female US Envoy —
Kathleen Stephens is the current United States ambassador to S. Korea. On Oct. 8, 2008 Stephens presented her credentials to South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak. She speaks Korean language fluently. She is the first female ambassador to South Korea since the opening of the diplomatic ties between Seoul and Washington in 1883.
Courtesy of Hangyereh

Kathleen Stephens is the current United States ambassador to South Korea. On Oct. 8, 2008, Stephens presented her credentials to South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak. She speaks Korean language fluently. She is the first female amb assador to South Korea since the opening of the diplomatic ties between Seoul and Washington in 1883.

Early life

Stephens was born in west Texas and grew up in New Mexico and Arizona. She holds a B.A. in East Asian studies from Prescott College and a Master's degree from Harvard University, and also studied at Oxford University. After university, she was a Peace Corps volunteer in Yesan, South Korea, South Chungcheong from 1975-1977; it was then that she was given her Korean name Eungyeong Shim (심은경). She later lived in Hong Kong as an exchange student at the University of Hong Kong and an instructor with Outward Bound. She speaks Korean and Serbo-Croatian, with limited competence in Cantonese and Mandarin.

Career

Stephens joined the United States Foreign Service in 1978. Early in her career, Stephens served at U.S. missions in the People's Republic of China (1980-1982) and in Trinidad and Tobago (1978-1980). Her tour of duty in South Korea included roles as internal political unit chief at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul (1984-1987) and Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Busan (1987-1989). Afterwards, she worked as a political officer at the U.S. missions in Belgrade and Zagreb (1991-1992), senior desk officer for the United Kingdom in the Bureau of European Affairs (1992-1994), Director for European Affairs at the United States National Security Council, 1994-1995, Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Belfast, Northern Ireland, 1995-1998, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal, 1998-2001, and Director of the Office of Ecology and Terrestrial Conservation at the United States Department of State, 2001-2003.

Stephens assumed her duties as Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs on December 5, 2003, during which her primary responsibility was policy oversight and management of relations with the countries of South-Central Europe. Following that, she assumed her duties as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs in June 2005. In that capacity, she was responsible for a variety of Bureau-wide issues, including post management. She largely oversaw U.S. relations with Japan and Korea.

Stephens grew up in the American Southwest and now calls western Montana home.

US Ambassador to South Korea

On Oct. 8, 2008 US Ambassador to Seoul Kathleen Stephens is surrounded by teachers and students at Yesan Middle School in South Chungcheong Province, where she taught as a Peace Corps Volunteer 33 years before.

US Ambassador to South Korea Kathleen Stephens is greeted by Principal Park Jong-Wan and students at Yesan Middle School where Stephens taught as a Peace Corps Volunteer 33 years before.On July 31, 2008, Sen. Sam Brownback retracted his objection to the nomination of Stephens as US ambassador to South Korea, removing a key obstacle to her confirmation. Brownback had been blocking Stephens' nomination over human rights concerns in North Korea and how they were being addressed in the six-nation North Korean nuclear negotiations. On August 1, 2008, the US Senate confirmed Stephens' nomination as US ambassador to South Korea one day after Sen. Brownback dropped his opposition to Stephens.

Arrival in South Korea

On Oct. 8, 2008, Stephens presented her credentials to President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea. The Chosun Ilbo reported that Stephens spoke to Lee in fluent Korean during parts of their meeting and said she would strengthen ties between the two countries. On Oct. 9, 2008, Stephens visited Yesan Middle School where she had taught as a Peace Corps volunteer 33 years before. "Yesan is where I learned the qualities I needed to be a diplomat," said Stephens. "I had warm-hearted colleagues who were out there for me, and students who studied hard despite many difficulties. I learned how to endure hardships and convince others, which is essential for a diplomat."




 

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