Iraq, Korea reaf­firm joint re­con­struc­tion efforts

The Korea Times - - EMBASSY ROW - By Yi Whan-woo yis­[email protected]­re­

Iraq, un­like other oil-pro­duc­ing Mid­dle Eastern coun­tries, has an ex­tra chal­lenge in di­ver­si­fy­ing its econ­omy.

The coun­try’s push for eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion comes af­ter a war in­volv­ing the United States fol­lowed by an­other with the ISIS ter­ror­ist group, over which then-Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Haider al-Abadi de­clared vic­tory in 2017.

At a re­cep­tion in Seoul on Sept. 3, Iraq and Korea reaf­firmed their co­op­er­a­tion to re­con­struct the wartorn coun­try to help im­ple­ment the Iraq Vision 2030 ini­tia­tive.

The ini­tia­tive aims for so­cial safety, job cre­ation, ur­ban plan­ning, sustainabl­e de­vel­op­ment and the dig­i­tal­iza­tion of the econ­omy by 2030, in co­or­di­na­tion with other na­tional de­vel­op­ment plans, such as the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan 2018-2022 and the Na­tional Poverty Re­duc­tion Plan as well as the U.N. sustainabl­e de­vel­op­ment goals.

The Sept. 3 re­cep­tion cel­e­brated the 30th an­niver­sary of Iraq-Korea diplo­matic relations, at­tract­ing dig­ni­taries from both sides.

From the Iraqi side were Ambassador to Korea Hay­der Shiya Al-Bar­rak and Min­is­ter of Plan­ning Nouri Al Do­laimi. The Korean side in­cluded President Moon Jae-in’s spe­cial ad­viser on Iraq Han Byung-do and Lib­erty Korea Party law­maker Hong Il-pyo, who is also president of Korea-Iraq Par­lia­men­tary Friend­ship Group.

The two Iraqi of­fi­cials listed the re­con­struc­tion projects in­volv­ing the Korean gov­ern­ment and en­ter­prises and ex­pressed appreciati­on of Korea’s sup­port.

Among the projects are the Bis­mayah New City Project with Han­wha En­gi­neer­ing and Con­struc­tion and the Kar­bala Re­fin­ery Project with Hyundai En­gi­neer­ing and Con­struc­tion.

The Korea In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Agency (KOICA), a for­eign aid or­ga­ni­za­tion, has par­tic­i­pated in projects on health, ed­u­ca­tion, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, in­fra­struc­ture, women and chil­dren un­der the wing of the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs.

With grants from the Seoul gov­ern­ment, lan­guage labs have opened at Mo­sul Univer­sity, the Min­istry of La­bor and So­cial Af­fairs and the Min­istry of Plan­ning.

“It is worth men­tion­ing here that this co­op­er­a­tion and part­ner­ship had pre­ceded the es­tab­lish­ment of diplo­matic relations be­tween the two coun­tries,” Ambassador Al-Bar­rak said in his open­ing speech.

He re­ferred to Hyundai En­gi­neer­ing and Con­struc­tion’s in­volve­ment in a sewage plant project in Basra in 1978.

He said Korea was a good ex­am­ple, prov­ing that distance did not nec­es­sar­ily hinder part­ner­ship be­tween coun­tries, adding, “Today, af­ter shaking off the dust of war, de­struc­tion and tragedies, we set off with our Korean friends on a non-stop march of build­ing and re­con­struc­tion.”

Al-Bar­rak as­sessed President Moon Jae-in’s ap­point­ment of Han in 2018 re­sulted from Moon’s be­lief in the im­por­tance of strategic part­ner­ships with promis­ing coun­tries.

“I would like to seize this op­por­tu­nity to in­vite all Korean com­pa­nies to en­ter with con­fi­dence, and to in­vest vig­or­ously in Iraq,” the ambassador said, un­der­scor­ing that Iraq is “a se­cure, united and plu­ral­is­tic coun­try adopt­ing demo­cratic val­ues for a peace­ful transfer of power.”

For­eign in­vestors, ac­cord­ing to Al-Bar­rak, are of­fered all tech­ni­cal and lo­gis­tic as­sis­tance, such as a sin­gle-win­dow sys­tem, se­cu­rity and prompt entry visas.

In a sep­a­rate speech, Min­is­ter Al Do­laimi said the Iraq-Korea relations were “wit­ness­ing an im­por­tant stage amid Korea’s con­tin­u­ous sup­port.”

He said, “It gives me plea­sure to take part in the com­mem­o­ra­tion of the 30th an­niver­sary of diplo­matic relations be­tween the Repub­lic of Iraq and the Repub­lic of Korea.”

He added that his gov­ern­ment is “look­ing for­ward to the con­tri­bu­tion of Korean gov­ern­ments” on re­con­struc­tion projects in ar­eas lib­er­ated from ISIS.

He noted those ar­eas have been badly dam­aged by ter­ror at­tacks and need in­fra­struc­ture re­con­struc­tion and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

Han said he wit­nessed the “strong will of the Iraqi gov­ern­ment and the ea­ger­ness of Iraqis to­ward” re­con­struc­tion and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

Korea Times photo by Yi Whan-woo

Iraqi Ambassador to Korea Hay­der Shiya Al-Bar­rak, third from left, Iraqi Min­is­ter of Plan­ning Nouri Al Do­laimi, fifth from left, President Moon Jae-in’s spe­cial ad­viser on Iraq Han Byungdo, fourth from left, and other dig­ni­taries pose for a photo dur­ing a re­cep­tion to mark the 30th an­niver­sary of Iraq-Korea relations at the Seoul Par­nas ho­tel in Gang­nam-gu, south­ern Seoul, Sept. 3.

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