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S. Korean FM in Ethiopia on final leg of African energy diplomacy

Tigrai Online
April. 08 2011

South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwanSEOUL, April 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan is in Ethiopia on Friday for the final leg of his three-nation trip intended to bolster cooperation in energy, infrastructure and other key economic areas, an official here said.

The trip, which began on April 2 and is scheduled to end Saturday, is the latest in South Korea's efforts to tap business opportunities in African countries rich in oil and other mineral resources, said the official.

The trip has so far taken Kim to Gabon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he met with his respective counterparts and paid courtesy calls on their leaders, the official said.

"In Ethiopia, the minister is scheduled to pay a courtesy call on its prime minister, who holds the highest power, and put the finishing touches on his eight-day trip, which will encourage South Korean companies to more actively invest in Africa," the official said, declining to be named as the trip had yet to conclude.

Kim is South Korea's first foreign minister to visit Congo and Ethiopia since Seoul established diplomatic relations with the two countries in 1963. The last time a South Korean foreign minister visited Gabon was in 1980.

In a release late Thursday, the ministry said on its Web site that Kim visited Congo for two days and discussed ways to strengthen cooperation in agriculture, hydroelectric power, technology, housing, oil drilling, port construction and other areas.

In Gabon, Kim discussed cooperation in oil and other energy projects, the ministry said in an earlier release.

In Ethiopia, the minister is expected to discuss various bilateral issues, including programs for the African nation's 1950-53 Korean War veterans. Ethiopia sent thousands of soldiers to the U.S.-led U.N. forces to help South Korea fight against North Korean troops during the conflict.