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PM calls for higher defense budget

  Prime Minister Chung Hong-won said Tuesday he believes South Korea should increase its defense budget to 3 percent of gross domestic product, citing the country's "security realities."

   Chung made the remark during a parliamentary interpellation session after Rep. Kim Eul-dong of the ruling Saenuri Party accused the government of lacking commitment to national security as it did not set aside enough budget for national defense.

   "Security realities make it necessary to increase the defense budget," Chung said. "It is true that the current defense budget is about only 2.5 percent of GDP, and I think about 3 percent would be desirable."

   The government submitted a 35.8 trillion won (US$33.2 billion) budget request for fiscal 2014 to the National Assembly for approval earlier this year, a 4.2 percent increase from this year's budget.

   South Korea faces the communist North across the world's most heavily fortified border. The two Koreas are still technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. (Yonhap News)

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