The South Korean foreign ministry said Sunday it had established diplomatic relations with South Sudan, congratulating the world’s newest state on its formal independence.
The diplomatic accord was signed in South Sudan between South Korean Cabinet minister Lee Jae-oh and Deng Alor Kuol, the African nation’s foreign minister on Saturday, the ministry said in a statement.
“With the establishment of diplomatic ties, the government plans to strengthen cooperation with the Republic of South Sudan in relevant areas,” the statement said.
Lee, a lawmaker of the ruling Grand National Party, who doubles as a minister for special affairs, attended a ceremony Saturday where South Sudan officially declared independence from the North.
The people of South Sudan voted overwhelmingly in January to create a new country.
Expressing hopes to learn from South Korea’s experience of rapid economic growth after the 1950-53 Korean War, South Sudan has already appointed its ambassador to South Korea and plans to open an embassy in Seoul this year.
Minister of Special Affairs Lee Jae-oh (left) and South Sudan’s Foreign Minister Deng Alor Kuol show protocols to establish diplomatic relations between the two countries at the presidential palace in Juba, South Sudan on Friday. (Yonhap News)
The Seoul government is considering inviting South Sudanese officials to Korea to take part in training programs.
Seoul plans to have South Korean businesses take part in building hospitals, schools and roads in South Sudan, which is still damaged by war.
The South Korean government is considering whether to open an embassy in the South Sudanese capital of Juba or whether to house its diplomatic mission in a neighboring country do the job in the new country as well.
Once the two countries complete the official procedures, the South Sudan will be the 189th nation with which South Korea has established diplomatic relations.
Thirty-five countries have confirmed opening an embassy or a consulate in South Sudan so far.
By Kim So-hyun (email@example.com