Visiting Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi urged Korea to provide developmental aid that can help his nation out of poverty.
While many countries including India and China are giving aid to Africa, Korea holds a superior position them in that the country has achieved an "economic miracle," he told reporters at the Hotel Lotte in Seoul.
The key for Korea`s successful advance into Africa lies in its sharing of developmental knowhow given the country`s rise from an aid-receiving poor country into a wealthy state, he added.
Meles arrived in Seoul Monday for talks with President Lee Myung-bak and the fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan. In the interview, Meles said he is eager to learn the lessons from the developmental model of the late former President Park Chung-hee.
The Ethiopian leader also promised to reopen in Seoul the Ethiopian Embassy that was closed in April 2002 due to budget problems.
The following is excerpts from Meles` interview.
Q: This is your third visit to Korea since 1998.
Meles: I came to Korea in 1998, when the country was suffering from the currency crisis of late 1997. When I made my second visit last year to attend the G-20 summit, I was impressed to see that Korea not only successfully overcame the currency crisis but also weathered well the 2008 global financial crisis. One characteristic of Korea`s success is its capacity to use adversity and challenge as a source of opportunity.
In July last year, President Lee visited Ethiopia as the first Korean head of state to go to the African nation since Ethiopia`s participation in Korean War in 1950. He and Meles agreed on a five-year strategic plan to foster Ethiopia’s agricultural and textile industries based on Korea`s economic reform experience.
In the interview, Meles urged Korean companies to participate in his nation`s labor-intensive industries, including textiles and shoes.
Q: Ethiopia helped Korea 60 years ago. Now it will receive help from Korea.
Meles: The two countries’ ties were built by the blood shed by soldiers from both sides. We share a strong bond. What is different now is that Korea has grown through successful developmental policies. The Ethiopian economy has remained unstable, however, mainly due to civil wars and the failure of the previous government`s developmental policy.
Q: You have shown keen interest in former Korean President Park Chung-hee. Evaluations of Park are mixed here in Korea. Is there a specific reason you like him?”
Meles: I like him for the same reason Koreans like him. He successfully led economic development. I`m not interested in Korean politics. What interests me is how Korea rose from poverty to a rich country and its experience. Many African countries are eager to learn what Park did for economic development and how.
Meles became the president of Ethiopia in 1991 following the collapse of a communist regime and has been prime minister since 1995.