Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants
Tokyo - KUNA
South Korea on Monday called on local companies operating in Iraq to make utmost efforts to ensure the safety of their staff amid growing security threats from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants there, Yonhap News Agency reported.
"South Korean companies in Iraq should ensure the safety of their employees in Iraq," Lee Jeong-gwan, ambassador for overseas Koreans and consular affairs at the Foreign Ministry, said in Seoul. About 80 Korean companies, including subcontractors, are doing business in Iraq with about 1,100 South Koreans staying in the Middle Eastern country.
Concerns over the safety of foreigners are running high after IS' killing of several hostages from overseas.
"The Seoul government faces dual daunting tasks as it should address security concerns for Korean residents there as well as take into account businesses' operations," Lee was quoted as saying at a meeting with officials from about 20 local builders and companies operating in Iraq. Lee also said that the US-led drive against the militant group would help see it defeated, but that firms needed to be prepared for possible terrorist attacks targeting companies and foreigners.
Since June, the South Korean government has overseen a reduction in the number of Korean residents in Iraq to about 1,000 on concerns that escalating violence in the country may be prolonged.
The Foreign Ministry said that it will review firms' plans to beef up security and proposals to allow more South Koreans to travel to the country.