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Guinea to learn from Korean democratization

2012/05/26 | 105 views | Permalink | Source

Guinean President Alpha Conde

By Kim Young-jin

Guinean President Alpha Conde expressed Wednesday the desire to match his country's rich natural resources with local capital and to learn from Korea's democratization experience.

Visiting Seoul on a three-day trip, Conde downplayed possible investment jitters over the West African nation's transition to democracy, saying it would soon hold a legislative election seen as essential to the process.

After a summit with President Lee Myung-bak, Conde said bolstered economic cooperation was an easy decision.

"Guinea has the raw materials, including two-thirds of the world's supply of bauxite and iron ore", Conde told The Korea Times. "Korea has the know-how and the model we are aspiring to".

Conde was elected in 2010 in Guinea's first democratic election since gaining independence from France in 1958, after decades of military control. He is the country's first president to visit Korea.

"We are very much interested in the South Korean experience because the similarities are great", he said.

Korea has become Asia's fourth-largest economy and a vibrant democracy after rising from the ashes of the 1950-53 Korean War and from military rule.

Conde said he expected to hold long-awaited legislative elections in September, after the country's rainy season. They were originally slated for July but postponed due to technical problems in voter registration he said. The delay drew protests from opposition leaders.

But he said the investment environment was unwavering and downplayed reports of any turbulence.

"The best way to get a sense of how stable the country is to come", he said, noting that many Chinese, Brazilian and other firms had made the trip. "There's a difference between the reality and propaganda in the press".

During the summit, Lee asked for Conde's support for Korean firms interested in resource development there.

Conde expressed hope for greater development aid and expanded agricultural and fishery cooperation.

"Our development model will put a lot of focus on agriculture to reach self sufficiency as Korea has. That's another area where Korean companies may be interested".

He said measures had been taken to streamline the processing of foreign direct investment and provide security for investors, adding that commissions had been created to handle investors' affairs and large-scale investment.

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