Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan left for Africa on Saturday on a three-nation trip aimed at boosting partnerships in energy, infrastructure and other areas.
The trip comes as South Korea is seeking to tap business opportunities in African countries rich in oil and other mineral resources as a way to strengthen Seoul’s energy diplomacy.
The eight-day trip will take Kim to Gabon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia, where he will hold talks with his respective counterparts and pay courtesy calls on their leaders, the ministry said.
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 Gabon, Kim will discuss cooperation in oil and other energy projects, while in Congo, he plans to explore joint projects in infrastructure and resources development, the ministry said.
In Ethiopia, the minister will 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.