South Korea seeks ‘true partners’ in Middle East
 By Alex Jensen

 South Korea’s vice foreign minister vowed Tuesday to boost relations with the Middle East, stressing the need for global solutions to present day nuclear weapon threats following North Korea’s claimed hydrogen bomb test last month.

Lim Sung-nam was addressing a forum in Seoul when he called for “true partners” in the region on political, economic and cultural terms.

While comparing the need for cooperation in resolving security challenges on both the Korean Peninsula and in the Middle East, the vice minister also had a message for the latter.

“It’s my heartfelt hope that the Islamic values of tolerance and peaceful coexistence will be fully realized,” local news agency Yonhap quoted Lim telling the South Korea-EU International Conference on Middle Eastern and North African Affairs.

"This will be invaluable in addressing the difficulties in the region," he added.

South Korean firms and investors have recently been showing heightened interest in doing business with Iranian counterparts following the lifting of sanctions on Tehran.

But the South’s relationship with Turkey may serve as an inspiration for other nations in the Middle East.

The two sides expanded their free trade agreement last year to include services and investments, although their bond had already been sealed as allies during the 1950-53 Korean War.

Seoul has also held talks about a similar deal with the Gulf Cooperation Council, and South Korean President Park Geun-hye said last year after a four-nation tour of the Middle East that the region could be “the answer to our prayer for economic revitalization”.
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