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2007/12/15 17:45 KST
S. Korea awards highest medal to visiting U.S. Army leader

   SEOUL, Dec. 15 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. Army chief Gen. George W. Casey was awarded Saturday South Korea's highest medal for those who contribute to national security.

   In a ceremony held on the main field at the Defense Ministry in Seoul, South Korea's Army Chief of Staff Gen. Park Heung-ryul awarded Casey the Tongil (unification) Medal of National Security Merit on behalf of President Roh Moo-hyun.

   Gen. Casey arrived in South Korea Friday as part of his Asian tour. He left for Japan later Saturday.

   "He is credited with working hard to foster South Korea-U.S. military ties including his support for Gen. Park's proposal to set up a cooperative system to counter terrorism during the Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference held in Sydney in August," a Defense Ministry spokesman said.

   After receiving the medal, Casey inspected South Korean honor guards together with Park by a protocol car.

   U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. B.B. Bell, Lt. Gen. David P. Valcourt, the Eighth Army commander, and 30 other senior American and South Korean military officials attended the ceremony.

   Casey served as commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq before assuming his current post in April. About 28,000 American troops are stationed here as a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.