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Seoul seeks to limit Mideast falloutBy 김소현
Published : Feb. 24, 2011 - 19:31
President Lee Myung-bak on Thursday instructed his government to closely monitor the continuing turmoil in the Middle East and take steps to minimize its economic impact during an emergency meeting with related ministers.
Lee also called for utmost efforts to ensure the safety of South Koreans in Libya as violent uprisings spread in the country.
“Please use all possible means to protect South Korean residents and workers of companies operating there,” Lee was quoted as saying by his spokesperson Kim Hee-jung.
The president ordered related ministries to “thoroughly analyze” how the situation unfolds in the Middle East and execute strategies to counter the fallouts.
“Related ministries should check how the different levels of oil prices would affect the domestic economy and map out countermeasures,” he said.
Lee also called for steps to prevent any waste of energy in case of an oil price hike following Libya’s oil production cut.
Lee was briefed by the ministers of foreign affairs, finance, knowledge economy and land, and the chairman of the Financial Services Commission during the meeting on their countermeasures.
The government is already running task forces to check on crude oil inventory and supply, diversify the sources of crude oil import and raise energy alert levels.
The presidential office will also run its own team to check on oil supply and draw plans to protect South Korean people and businesses in the region starting Friday, Kim said.
About 1,400 South Koreans are currently staying in Libya ― about 1,050 of them in and around the capital of Tripoli and some 340 others in and around the eastern port city of Benghazi, according to the Foreign Ministry.
Twenty-four South Korean builders are carrying out construction work in the North African country.
An Egypt Airlines flight chartered by the Seoul government was set to evacuate 260 South Koreans out of Libya on Thursday and additional charter flights will be sent if needed, the ministry said.
Those in the northeastern part of the country where airports have been shut down will be transported by land to neighboring Egypt. The evacuees will move to Cairo with the assistance of the South Korean diplomatic mission in Egypt.
The Seoul government is also seeking to get an international passenger ship to evacuate South Koreans to seaports in nearby countries.
By Kim So-hyun (email@example.com)
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