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Foreign minister heads to Paris for talks on Libya

South Korea’s top diplomat headed for France to attend a meeting of 60 world leaders and high-level envoys to map out Libya’s future as Moammar Gadhafi’s 41-year regime comes to an end, the Foreign Ministry here said Thursday.

Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, EU and Arab chiefs, the U.S. secretary of state, U.N. secretary-general and other international leaders will discuss Libya’s reconstruction and political transition as the country is soon to experience a sea change toward democracy following the rule of a dictator for four decades.

During the “Friends of Libya” conference, Libya’s interim governing body, the National Transitional Council, will present its initiatives for political transition and national reconstruction. The North African country faces a tricky path in coming weeks with food and water shortages, possible conflicts among different tribes and so on.

“The participants will discuss ways for the international community to hand out necessary political and financial support to the country. Possible measures include unfreezing its overseas assets,” Seoul’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Byung-jae said.

“This conference is the first high-level international meeting aimed at outlining the direction of Libya’s reconstruction at a time when the unrest in the country is reaching its final stage.”

On the sidelines of the Paris conference, Kim will also meet the Libyan interim council members to discuss ways to accelerate bilateral relations after transition, according to the ministry.

South Korea has officially recognized Libya’s NTC as the North African nation’s legitimate government and pledged to provide humanitarian assistance to the Libyan people.

Meanwhile, South Korea is preparing to reopen its embassy in Libya by sending two diplomats to its capital city, officials said.

Six months have passed since Seoul moved its embassy to a Tunisian island to avoid danger in the conflict-torn state.

“The government will decide when to reopen the embassy based on the reports of the two officials who have been sent to Libya,” an official here said on the condition of anonymity.

By Shin Hae-in (hayney@heraldcorp.com)
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