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SKorea doubles Africa Aid

SEOUL, Nov 24 – South Korea on Tuesday agreed to double its development aid to Africa in the next three years to help the continent fight poverty and grow sustainably, Seoul officials said.

South Korea\’s overseas development assistance (ODA) to Africa will increase two-fold by 2012 from last year\’s 107 million dollars, they said.

The accord was announced when South Korea and the 15-state African Union launched a second forum here to discuss economic cooperation and environment, with more than 100 top African officials attending.

The foreign ministers of South Korea and African Union states signed the agreement on the sidelines of the forum, according to a joint statement.

"We agree to strengthen our partnership in order to support Africa in eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development as well as to promote the prosperity of African countries and Korea," the statement said.

Since Seoul started the "Korea Initiative" aimed at helping economic development in Africa in 2006, its ODA has increased 2.5 times, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Un-Chan said at the forum.

"Over the next three years, we\’ll double the ODA to Africa," Chung said.

"South Korea is also willing to share its experience and know-how with Africa in raising and developing human resources," he said.

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During the same period, Seoul will invite 5,000 Africans and send 1,000 volunteers there to help train workers, South Korean officials said.

The planned aid, largely in the form of credit or grant, will be allocated to a wide range of areas, including rural development, vocational training and information communication technology assistance, the joint statement said.

It will also help African Union states initiate feasibility studies on environmental projects and explore "green business" models like eco-tourism.

In a keynote speech at the forum, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade asked for technology transfer from South Korea in various sectors including energy, which he said was the "best way" for the country to assist Africa.

South Korea has stepped up efforts to improve ties with resource-rich African states, increasing aid to the continent to 107 million dollars last year, up from 42 million dollars in 2005.

Two-way trade between South Korea and African countries reached 13.43 billion dollars in 2008, according to Seoul\’s foreign ministry data.

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