Korea rescues 1 American, 6 Japanese in Libya

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Korea rescues 1 American, 6 Japanese in Libya

Korean companies and the Seoul government helped rescue one American and six Japanese citizens from Libya during recent evacuation efforts in the war-ravaged country, a diplomatic source told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday.

Washington and Tokyo expressed appreciation for the help, the source said.

“An American was left behind in Libya. Could you help us get him out?,” a Washington official was quoted as saying by the source when the official called the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Seoul on March 3.

Shortly after that, an official of the U.S. Embassy in Korea rushed to the ministry and asked for help in evacuating the 69-year-old American who had not been able to get aboard a ferry evacuation arranged by the U.S. government, the source said.

The source said the ministry immediately sought cooperation from Daewoo Engineering and Construction to help the American. Daewoo was planning to evacuate its employees the next day by ship.

The Greek ship, rented by Daewoo for its 619 Korean and foreign employees, was scheduled to leave the port of Benghazi, the rebel capital, at 9 a.m. on March 4. The American arrived at the port shortly before the departure. The ship arrived at the Greek island of Crete on March 5 and the American was greeted by his family, the source said.

“The rescue is symbolic of the alliance between Korea and the U.S.,” a U.S. State Department official was quoted as saying to the Korean government.

A Japanese government official who recently visited Seoul also thanked the Korean government for rescuing six citizens in Libya.

On Feb. 25, the Japanese government asked the Korean government to help evacuate several Japanese citizens remaining in Libya. The Japanese Embassy in Libya had already been shut down for safety reasons and the six Japanese were later found to have been left in Sirte and Benghazi.

Doosan Heavy Industries was about to evacuate its employees - 60 Koreans and 208 foreigners - on a chartered Egyptian airplane and it arranged an additional seat for one of the Japanese at the request of the Korean government. The other five Japanese were employees of Daewoo Engineering.

By Kang Chan-ho [joe@joongang.co.kr]
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