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Foreign minister eyes visit to Libya
SEOUL, Feb. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is working to set up a visit by its foreign minister to Libya, an official said Tuesday, which would symbolize the full restoration of relations between the two countries that had frayed over an espionage row last year.

   Minister Kim Sung-hwan plans to travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Algeria from Feb. 5-10 for cooperation talks with his counterparts, and a trip to Libya could be added to the itinerary, the official said on condition of anonymity.

   "We've been working on it, but we could not make an announcement because the travel plan has not been finalized yet," the official said. "The minister hopes to discuss ways to further boost cooperation between the two countries that marked the 30th anniversary of relations" in December.

   Kim's visit to Libya, if realized, would mark the full recovery of ties that had strained over allegations that a South Korean intelligence agent attempted to collect information on the Libyan leader and the country's weapons systems.

   The dispute led to the suspension of Libya's diplomatic mission in Seoul and the detention of two South Koreans staying in the African nation on charges of violating the Muslim nation's religious law.

   The row was resolved in late September at a meeting between Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi and South Korean legislator Lee Sang-deuk, who is a brother of President Lee Myung-bak. Libya has since reopened its mission in Seoul, and the two detained Koreans have been freed.

   In late December, the Libyan leader fully pardoned the two Koreans in consideration of relations between the two countries.

   jschang@yna.co.kr
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