By Park Hye Ri and Kim Young Shin
Photos = Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon’s Facebook
Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon has wrapped up visits to Tunisia and Morocco after his trip to Algeria, having held meetings with his counterparts and attending business forums in his North African tour.
He also agreed with Tunisian and Moroccan businesspeople to jointly expand their cooperation in Africa.
In Tunisia from Dec. 18-20 at the invitation of Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, Lee became the first Korean prime minister to visit the North African country since both countries established diplomatic relations in 1969.
The two men on Dec. 19 held a meeting in which they agreed that bilateral cooperation will create great synergy given their shared history of people-led democratization and vast human resources. Seoul and Tunis also pledged to collaborate in fields such as digitalization and the promotion of joint projects to neighboring countries.
Lee proposed economic cooperation in high-tech fields such as information and communication technology (ICT) and renewable energy, adding that an ICT partnership will support democracy in Tunisia.
The Korean official also held talks on strengthening ties with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi and parliamentary speaker Mohamed Ennaceur.
Lee also attended the Korea-Tunisia business forum the same day featuring 11 Korean companies holding 46 rounds of business talks with 27 Tunisian companies.
At the event, the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperation with the Tunisia Foreign Investment Promotion Agency and Tunisia Export (CEPEX). The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) also signed an agreement with the Tunisian Prime Minister’s Office on a joint project for the e-procurement system.
Lee on Dec. 20 flew to Morocco for bilateral talks on boosting government-level cooperation with Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine Othmani.
Morocco is the first African country to set up a Korean embassy and the only nation on the continent to have prime ministers reciprocate visits with Korea this year. Lee added that economic cooperation between the two countries remains low, however, thus indicating lots of room for further development.
Lee also expressed the Korean government’s full support for Morocco’s Industrial Acceleration Plan 2014-20, which seeks to create jobs in the automotive, aviation, textile, construction and renewable energy industries. He also asked for Rabat’s support for Korean companies wishing to participate in the plan.
After their meeting, the two prime ministers attended the signing ceremony for five MOUs and one letter of exchange between Korean and Moroccan organizations.
Lee returned to Seoul on Dec. 23.