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(2nd LD) S. Korea opens hospital, job training center in Afghanistan

All Headlines 21:34 April 11, 2010

(ATTN: ADDS more details in paras 3,5)

BAGRAM, Afghanistan, April 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea opened a hospital and a job training center in Afghanistan after nearly a year of construction on Sunday as part of efforts to help rebuild the war-torn nation.

South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Yong-joon and high-level officials from Afghanistan's Foreign Ministry and other government agencies attended a ceremony celebrating the opening of the facilities in Bagram. Construction of the facilities began in June last year.

"South Korea has made efforts to share its experience of reconstruction and development with Afghans and opened the facilities to better provide medical services and help develop human resources," Lee said.

Lee added the hospital and the job training center will become part of Seoul's Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) when the civilian-led assistance group is established later this year.

South Korea is currently preparing to dispatch some 120 civilian engineers, along with some 320 troops to protect them, to Afghanistan in July to help rebuild the country. The South Korean PRT will be stationed in the northern Parwan Province.

The 30-bed hospital with two operation rooms in a two-story building is expected to treat up to 200 patients a day. Two dozen South Korean medical staff, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists, will operate the hospital with the help of 25 local employees.

The South Korean staff from Paik Medical Center, a leading South Korean medical services institution, plans to focus on treating infectious diseases and injuries while also running public health projects to improve local medical conditions.

The two-story vocational training center, meanwhile, will offer courses from six months to a year in five areas -- construction, automobiles, computers, welding and electricity. Each course will take about 15-20 trainees.

Nine South Korean instructors and 22 local staff will operate the center.

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