South Korea sees security as key to companies returning to Libya – Al Marsad

Libya – South Korea has again expressed its desire to expand political and economic ties with Libya, according to its ambassador, Choi Sung-soo, but security remains the issue.

In talks on economic cooperation in Tripoli on January 2 with Presidency Council (PC) member Abdulsalam Kajman, the ambassador was reported thanking the PC’s Government of National Accord for working on security arrangement to enable Korean companies to return and complete projects. In April last year, it was announced that the planned Presidency Guard could be used to protect Korean companies. It is known, however, that the South Korean government in Seoul feels more requires to be done before companies will return in significant numbers.

Before the revolution, South Korean companies were heavily involved in numerous construction projects in Libya, particularly in the electricity sector. Two years ago, Libyan state electricity company GECOL said that existing but incomplete contracts with South Korean companies to build or extend power generation plants in the country were worth over $4 billion alone.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Kajman said that Libya also wants to see expanded ties with South Korea.

Last June, during a visit to Tripoli, Ambassador Sung-soo was reported saying that Seoul would reopen its embassy in Tripoli at the beginning of September and that its companies would be permitted to return to Libya to resume work on construction projects.  However, the following month a South Korean engineer, along with three Filipino colleagues working at the Man-Made River’s Al-Hassouna plant near Shwerif in central Libya, was kidnapped by armed militants.  All four are still missing.

South Korea has been actively involved in trying to help Libya rebuild in other areas.  Last month, it gave a further $1 million to UNDP-led Libya Stabilization Facility which has been funding local projects across the country.  South Korea had already given $2 million to the fund. It also, in December, gave $500,000 for a UNICEF education programme in Misrata.