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S. Korea bans travel to Libya

  South Korea on Wednesday decided to ban its nationals from traveling to or staying in Libya amid intensifying violence between protesters and government forces there, the foreign ministry said.

   The ban will take effect early next week for a period of one month after undergoing necessary procedures. Those who do not comply will face punishment of up to one year in prison or at least 3 million won (US$2,687) in fines, a ministry official said.

   "From now on, those who wish to visit Libya will have to make an application and receive permission for passport use," he said.

"Our passport policy deliberation committee will screen (the applications) individually and decide accordingly."

   Those already in Libya will be given until March 22 to apply for permission to stay and be informed of the committee's preliminary assessment in a week's time, the official added, saying that such applicants will have to state their own safety measures.

   The committee, comprising foreign ministry officials as well as outside experts, will also "pay heed not to allow the ban to dent the economic activities of (South Korean) firms operating there," the ministry said in a statement.

   As of Wednesday, 114 South Koreans are estimated to be left in Libya after hundreds more evacuated the Middle Eastern nation in the past weeks, it added.

   South Korea currently has travel bans on Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. (Yonhap News)
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