Two days after the bombing of an Italian base in Nasiriyah, which killed at least 18 Italians and 10 Iraqis, South Korea announced that it is to limit the role of its troops in Iraq to operations within coalition bases. South Korean troops were previously involved in programmes teaching Iraqis construction skills, the South Korean military's Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a news release on 13 November. Hours earlier, Japan indicated that it will postpone sending an additional 3,000 soldiers to Iraq, quashing Washington's request for more troops (MEED 13:11:03
Seoul and Tokyo's delay in sending troops to join the coalition's efforts in Iraq came as US Defence Secretary said that coalition forces are likely to stay on in the country after power is handed back to Iraqis, even if that is sooner than expected. 'It does not mean we would physically leave the country any sooner,' he told soldiers at the US military base on Guam. 'What it means is the Iraqis would begin to take on a greater portion of responsibility for governing themselves sooner.'