Maputo — Mozambique's Deputy Foreign Minister, Henrique Banze, told reporters in Maputo on Wednesday that cooperation between Mozambique and South Korea will soon take a step forward due to Korea's interest in Mozambican natural gas, and to the establishment of the Korean company Samsung in Mozambique.
He was speaking shortly after the arrival of Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-Sik, at the start of an official visit to strengthen ties between the two countries.
Banze said the Mozambican government also hopes to work with Korea in areas such as education and science and technology, and to encourage business partnerships between Mozambican and Korean companies.
"Korea is one of the Asian countries that has undergone very rapid growth", said Banze. It had begun as an underdeveloped country, starting from much the same conditions as Mozambique today. It grew on the basis of education and knowledge, and Mozambique would like to emulate that experience.
Historically, Mozambique's main relations with Korea were with the regime in the north of the divided peninsula. North Korea provided support for the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) during the war for Mozambican independence, and North Korean experts worked in Mozambican health and agriculture in the initial post-independence years. There is an avenue in central Maputo named after the founder of the North Korean state, Kim il-Sung.
Diplomatic relations with South Korea were only established in 1993, and this year South Korea plans to establish an embassy in Maputo.
In an interview published in Wednesday's issue of the independent daily "O Pais", Kim Hwang-Sik said that South Korea "is now placing a great stress on expanding its relations with Mozambique and with all east African countries".
"I believe we can establish mutually beneficial relations in the development of resources", he said. "I am anxious to share the experience of Korea in supporting Mozambique's efforts in socio-economic development".
Kim said that Korea is involved in setting up a professional training centre in the southern Mozambican city of Matola, and is interested in participating in projects to build roads, power stations and hospitals.
Three agreements were signed in 2010 concerning Korean loans to Mozambique - 45 million US dollars for hospital construction in the central city of Quelimane, 49 million on rural electrification in the southern province of Gaza, and 20 million for the road between the northern cities of Nampula and Cuamba.
Kim said that Mozambique is a priority country for Korean foreign aid, and soft loans to the country now total 190 million dollars. The Korean government now wants to launch a "partnership strategy" with Mozambique, in order to make its development aid more effective.