Diplomatic row arises between S Korea and Libya over alleged espionage

19:17, July 27, 2010      

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A South Korean intelligence officer was expelled from Libya last month on espionage charges, Seoul's foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

An official of South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS) , whose identity has yet to be disclosed, was deported from the African country on June 18 for allegedly spying on Libyan bureaucrats, including leader Muammar al-Qaddafi, according to local news reports.

The case led the Libyan authorities to close late last month its economic cooperation bureau in Seoul, which served as a de facto embassy, and summoned officials back to the country.

The foreign ministry here said on Monday that diplomatic operations are only temporarily suspended, and that Lee Sang-deuk, a ruling party heavyweight and elder brother of President Lee Myung-bak, visited Libya earlier this month as a special envoy.

Lee's trip did not help warm the soured ties, and now the NIS officials are in Libya to meet with their counterparts, according to Yonhap News Agency.

South Korea and Libya do not agree on what exactly constitutes illegal espionage activities, a foreign ministry official told Xinhua.

The ministry recently said the government still plans to expand economic cooperation with the African country.

Source: Xinhua


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