Libya’s office reopens after recent row

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Libya’s office reopens after recent row

Libya’s diplomatic mission in Korea will resume operations after its head returned to Korea, following four months of suspended diplomatic ties over a spy scandal, the foreign ministry said.

The foreign ministry said Masaoud Al Ghali, the head of Libya’s economic cooperation bureau, arrived to reopen the office in Seoul. The bureau serves as Libya’s de facto embassy in Korea.

In June, Libya expelled a Korean intelligence agent accused of attempting to collect information on Libya’s leader and the country’s weapons systems, and suspended the operation of its economic bureau in Seoul.

The dispute also led to Libya detaining two South Koreans for allegedly violating its religious law.

The row was resolved last week at a meeting between Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi and Korean lawmaker Lee Sang-deuk, who is the brother of President Lee Myung-bak. Libya agreed to reopen the economic office and released the detained Koreans.

Korean officials said Libya also is considering upgrading the office to full embassy status. Libya downgraded the embassy in Seoul in 2007 as part of a restructuring of it overseas diplomatic missions.

Al Ghali said relations between the two countries are in good shape.

“We think the bureau will be upgraded to an embassy sometime soon,” he told Yonhap News Agency.

“We think the two countries have to revitalize the bilateral relationship in various sectors, not only in political and economic matters, but in other areas as well.”

Hyundai E&C this week succeeded in getting the go-ahead to construct a Libyan power plant, valued at 1.3 billion won ($1.15 million). It followed a promise by the Libyan client to proceed with a down payment for the project that had been earlier delayed.

By Chun Su-jin, Kim Hee-jin []

An official at Libya’s economic cooperation bureau in Itaewon, Seoul hangs his nation’s flag as diplomatic ties were resumed. [YONHAP]
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