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48 African nations to join summit in Seoul next week

May 30, 2024 - 18:25 By Son Ji-hyoung
President Yoon Suk Yeol (right) claps hands with Kenyan President William Ruto (left) during his meeting with African countries' ambassadors in November in Seoul. (Presidential Office)

Delegations from 48 African countries and 25 state leaders are coming to Seoul next week on South Korea's invitation to its first-ever multilateral summit organized in hopes of strengthening economic and diplomatic ties with the continent, the presidential office said Thursday.

At the 2024 Korea-Africa Summit, scheduled to take place from June 4-5, President Yoon Suk Yeol is poised to hold formal talks with 25 leaders of African countries, according to Kim Tae-hyo, first deputy director of the presidential National Security Office.

"South Korea's (strategic) collaboration with Africa is not an option but is a must, in that South Korea is striving to become a global pivotal state," Kim told reporters.

Of the 25 countries' leaders, four of them -- Sierra Leonean President Julius Maada Bio, Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali and Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani -- will visit Seoul on official visits.

Kim said Yoon and Bio will meet for an official lunch Friday. This will be followed by Yoon's lunch with Hassan and dinner with Abiy on Sunday, as well as lunch with Ghazouani on Wednesday.

Yoon will also hold a joint press conference with the Mauritanian leader Tuesday after the summit under the tagline, “The Future We Make Together: Shared Growth, Sustainability, and Solidarity.” South Korea and Mauritania are the cohosts of the summit.

As for the summit week, Yoon will host a welcome dinner for delegations of all 48 participating countries on Monday, followed by the summit on Tuesday and a business summit hosted by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Wednesday,

According to Yoon's office, the summit will call for institutionalization in terms of African countries' trade and investment involving South Korean parties. The summit will also lead to an increased South Korean capital commitment to infrastructure projects in Africa. Ways to nurture digital transformation and stabilize the supply of key materials from Africa for South Korean manufacturers will also be touched upon.

President Yook Suk Yeol (fourth from left) shakes hands with participants in the meeting with African countries' ambassadors in November in Seoul. (Presidential Office)

"The summit will become the biggest multilateral meeting by size during Yoon's term, and the first one to host African countries," Kim said.

"We are expanding our strategic collaboration with the Global South, in line with our strategic approach to the Indo-Pacific region based on the principle of inclusivity, trust and reciprocity."

Meanwhile, a source from the presidential office said Seoul is exploring the possibility of hosting the multilateral event with African countries every four or five years, as China, Japan, Russia and the United States have hosted such summits multiple times.

Yoon has met the leaders of 17 African countries.