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South Korea's foreign minister resigns

The foreign minister of South Korea resigned Thursday, reportedly to take responsibility for not reining in criticism of the nation's foreign policy.
/ Source: The Associated Press

South Korea's foreign minister resigned Thursday, the presidential office said, amid open criticism by ministry officials of President Roh Moo-hyun's foreign policy.

President Roh accepted Yoon Young-kwan's resignation, said an official at the presidential Blue House. The official could not immediately provide further details, or say who would be replacing him.

Yonhap news agency quoted a senior Roh staffer as saying the foreign minister resigned to take responsibility for failing to rein in the critical voices.

"There's been an offer to resign as there has been confusion and cacophony in the government's foreign policy and take responsibility for failing to supervise properly amid the recent incidents at the Foreign Ministry," Jeong Chan-yong, a personnel affairs staffer for Roh, was quoted as saying.

Yoon's office declined to comment on the development.

Yoon's resignation came a day after President Roh said he would move the Foreign Ministry officials who criticized his foreign affairs policy to other posts.

"Several times, they have been asked to follow the president's policy," Roh said. "Some of them responded with objections to the president's foreign policy and expressed their discontent with insulting comments."

Roh did not disclose the identities of the officials or what they have said.

Local media reports have said the Foreign Ministry officials were at odds with Roh over his policy toward the United States, although details of the dispute differ. By some accounts, they criticized Roh's plans to dispatch South Korean troops to the Iraq and his negotiations to relocate U.S. troops currently based in the South Korean capital of Seoul. It was unclear what the crux of disagreement was.

Some reports have said they leaked information about discussions over U.S. troop relocations to the media.

Roh came to power last February promising to stand up to Washington on equal footing, but has since come under fire for what critics say is softening his stance by agreeing to the Iraqi troop dispatch and taking a firmer position in talks over North Korea's nuclear weapons crisis.