Libya releases S Korean pastor as diplomatic row ebbs

Libya has released a South Korean Christian pastor arrested for allegedly violating religious laws.

Last Updated: Oct 03, 2010, 13:15 PM IST

Seoul: Libya has released a South Korean
Christian pastor arrested for allegedly violating religious
laws as Tripoli promised to end a months-long diplomatic row
with Seoul, the foreign ministry said on Sunday.

The pastor and another South Korean national accused
of aiding him were set free yesterday night, Seoul`s foreign
ministry spokesman told a news agency.

The two men were handed over to their families in the
presence of the South Korean ambassador to Libya, he said.

The pastor was arrested in June on charges of bringing
Christian books and other materials for missionary work into
the Muslim country in violation of religious laws.

Another South Korean man was accused of helping
finance the pastor`s religious activities and was arrested a
month later.

Ties between the two nations soured after Libya
expelled a South Korean intelligence official in June for
allegedly trying to collect information on Libyan leader
Moamer Kadhafi, his family and leading bureaucrats.

Libya has suspended operations at its de facto embassy
in Seoul, forcing South Korean businessmen to go overseas if
they want visas for Libya.

Relations were further strained by the arrest of the
South Korean Christian pastor and by media coverage of the
country.

But the two countries agreed to put an end to the feud
during a visit by Lee Sang-Deuk, a brother of South Korean
President Lee Myung-Bak, to the North African country.

At Thursday`s talks with Lee, Kadhafi agreed to end
the "unsavory" row and to expand friendly ties with South
Korea, the foreign ministry said Friday.

The Libyan leader also promised to help South Korean
firms do business in the country, Yonhap news agency said.

Before the row, Seoul and Tripoli had built strong
economic ties since establishing diplomatic relations in 1980.

South Korean companies have worked on nearly 300
construction projects worth a total of 35 billion dollars in
Libya since 1978, according to data from Seoul.

PTI