Go to Contents Go to Navigation

(Yonhap Interview) Egyptian president calls on S. Korea to help combat terrorism

All News 11:39 March 03, 2016

By Lee Haye-ah

SEOUL, March 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korean firms could help the global fight against terrorism by hiring more young people in Egypt with the potential to resort to extremism due to a lack of jobs, the Egyptian president said.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi expressed high hopes for his official visit to Seoul, the first by an Egyptian leader since Hosni Mubarak in 1999, saying his country offers favorable conditions and opportunities for South Korean companies.

"I would like South Korea to actively invest in Egypt's various manufacturing sectors," he said in a group interview with Yonhap News Agency and other local media outlets Wednesday, shortly after arriving in the country for a three-day stay. "Egypt has an excellent labor force and has been ranked second in the world in terms of investment earnings rate."

El-Sisi, who took power in 2014 amid the Arab Spring uprisings, admitted that the political instability led to an economic downturn. As of September last year, Egypt's unemployment rate stood at 12.8 percent, according to official data.

"Many young people are without jobs and have lost hope for the future, so they have a tendency to sympathize with extremism and follow the wrong path," he said. "To resolve this, it's important to revive the economy. From that perspective, if South Korean firms offer jobs to the Egyptian youth, this will create a virtuous cycle."

Calling for more South Korean investment in his country, he noted that Egypt is the gateway to Africa, with free trade agreements with the Gulf states and a major project to expand the Suez Canal under way. He also advised South Korean firms to build warehouses in his country to serve as a regional distribution hub, adding some of the promising areas of bilateral cooperation include energy, desalination and manufacturing.

El-Sisi dismissed concerns about the safety of his country despite repeated attacks by terrorists, most notably the Islamic State militant group. Last year, the IS downed a Russian civilian aircraft en route from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, killing more than 200 people on board.

"I would like organizations dealing with security to visit Egypt," he said. "Egypt is a safe place. Some people have expressed unease, but I would like experts to come and see for themselves how freely one can travel there."

The fight against terrorism cannot be fought alone but requires the joint efforts of the entire international community, the president stressed.

"Egypt has always emphasized the importance of responding to all things that threaten peace and stability," he said. "Many people limit the threat of terrorism to IS alone, but they are only part of the terrorism occurring around the world."

At the end of the day, the only way to address a conflict will be through dialogue and negotiations, a method that applies equally to the two Koreas, according to the president.

"As far as I know, South Korea is a mature and developed country. It is fully capable of solving issues through dialogue," he said.

Egypt, currently a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, was behind Wednesday's unanimous adoption of a new council resolution punishing North Korea for its recent nuclear and missile tests.

Later Thursday, El-Sisi is scheduled to hold talks with President Park Geun-hye on ways to expand bilateral ties and increase cooperation on regional and global issues, according to Cheong Wa Dae, South Korea's presidential office.


Send Feedback
How can we improve?
Thanks for your feedback!