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S.Korea to spend more on national defense in 2004
www.chinaview.cn 2003-09-24 16:54:19

  SEOUL, Sept. 24 (Xinhuanet) -- The South Korean government has set a defense budget of 18.94 trillion won (16.18 billion US dollars) for the year of 2004, up by 8.1 percent from that of 2003, The Korea Herald reported Wednesday.

  The hike is the largest increase in five years, said the English-language newspaper.

  The government approved a total of 117.5 trillion won (100.42 billion dollars) budget for 2004 on Tuesday, up by 2.1 percent from that of 2003.

  The national defense budget rise was aimed at reinforcing the deterrence capability of the country's armed forces in order to effectively cope with the changing security circumstances in the Northeast Asian region, including the planned repositioning of theUS troops stationed here, said the newspaper.

  The United States and South Korea have agreed to relocate some of the 37,000-strong US troops deployed near inter-Korean border to some other place.

  Under an agreement reached by the two countries earlier, Seoul pledged to shoulder more defense responsibilities in the coming years.

  Of the 18.94 trillion won earmarked for defense needs, 6.3 trillion won (5.4 billion dollars) will be spent on new weapons systems. Some of the rest of the defense budget will go to improving the living conditions of enlisted soldiers, including new barracks and higher wages.

  Earlier this year, US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz urged Seoul to increase its defense budget which only accounts for 2.7 percent of the Asian country's gross domestic product (GDP).

  The South Korean government planned to raise the rate to 3.5 percent in the years to come. Enditem

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