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(LEAD) Park returns home after trip to Africa, France

All News 13:55 June 05, 2016

(ATTN: CHANGES first photo; TYPO in lead)
By Kim Kwang-tae

SEOUL, June 5 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye arrived in Seoul on Sunday after her swing through Africa and France meant to boost economic cooperation and win broad support to sanction North Korea for its nuclear weapons program.

The trip illustrated South Korea's efforts to tap into business opportunities on the African continent that has huge growth potential as well as to further strengthen existing economic ties with Paris.

Asia's fourth largest economy signed dozens of initial deals with Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya in such sectors as infrastructure development, energy, science, information and communications technology, a move that Seoul says will help local companies make inroads into Africa.

South Korea and France also signed more than 20 memorandums of understanding that outline, among other things, expanding technological cooperation in areas like autonomous vehicles, charging stations for electric vehicles and renewable energy.

"I am confident that South Korea's future-oriented partnership with the three African countries and France could serve as important momentum for an economic takeoff and to fuel exports," An Chong-bum, senior presidential secretary for policy coordination, told reporters as the president wrapped up her trip.

He also called on the new parliament to take relevant measures to ensure South Korean companies’ efforts to make inroads into foreign markets will not be in vain and instead gain traction.

Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya are pushing to modernize their infrastructure as they are seeking to learn from the South Korean model of economic development.

South Korea has become a donor country from a key recipient of U.N. aid in half a century, a transformation that has inspired many developing nations to emulate the Northeast Asian country. In particular, many have launched their own version of the "Saemaeul Movement," or new community movement.

The rural development program, initiated by Park's father, then-President Park Chung-hee in the 1970s, is credited with helping modernize the then-rural South Korean economy.

South Korea has launched its aid program for Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya in the latest sign of its commitment to boosting its new development cooperation with Africa.

The "Korea Aid" program is designed to provide mobile health care and nutritional support to local people in medically underserved regions by using 10 vehicles, including ambulances. The program also allows local people to experience South Korean culture.

Park has also secured African support against North Korea’s nuclear program.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has said that his country will cut off security and military cooperation with North Korea. The announcement came as a surprise, given Museveni’s longstanding relations with North Korea.

The longtime leader visited Pyongyang three times and met with North Korea's founder Kim Il-Sung, the late grandfather of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

North Korea is under the toughest U.N. sanctions ever over its fourth nuclear test and its long-range rocket launch earlier this year.

On Friday, Park met with her French counterpart, Francois Hollande, and they pledged to take additional steps against North Korea, if necessary, in the latest move to get Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program.

Hollande said France will make an all out effort to deter North Korea’s provocations, saying that France will always support South Korea and stand by its partner.


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