By Philip Iglauer
North Korea has not yet officially recognized the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) in Libya as the North African nation’s legitimate governing authority, said an official at the North Korean Embassy in Tripoli, Monday.
Asked whether Pyongyang has granted recognition to Libya’s NTC, the official was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency, “Not yet ... (we’ll have to) wait and see.” The official, who wished to remain unidentified, was speaking to reporters at the North Korean Embassy in Tripoli.
The official also confirmed reports that some 200 North Koreans are currently working in Libya as doctors, nurses and construction workers. With regard to their safety, the official said some have returned home, although others have not been able to leave due to difficulties in transit.
“We will deal with them depending on the circumstances,” the official was quoted as saying.
The North Korean Embassy building has not been looted or damaged in the six-month-long conflict, the official added. In the past week, the South Korean Embassy building and ambassador’s residence in Tripoli were attacked by armed robbers, although no one was hurt in either incident.
Pyongyang has yet to send a new ambassador to Tripoli, after the previous envoy returned to North Korea upon completing his term, the official said.
Between the two Koreas, Pyongyang was the first to establish diplomatic relations with Tripoli in 1974.
“We hope for peace and stability (in Libya),” the official said, adding that future relations between the nations will depend on the North African nation’s stability.
Some 50 to 60 countries, including South Korea, have recognized the NTC since its formation by rebel forces against the regime of Moammar Gadhafi in February.
Many of those nations are European countries and members of NATO, including France, Italy, Spain and Britain in May, and Germany in June.
France was one of the first countries to recognize the NTC on March 10, some nine days before the NATO-led intervention began.
The United States extended a formal nod to the rebel government on July 15, recognition that accompanied a massive aid package of some $30 billion.
Qatar was the first Arab country to recognize the NTC. Jordan, the UAE and Kuwait soon followed.
Egypt and the Arab League delivered its backing last week, after the rebels routed Gadhafi’s loyalist forces in Tripoli.
Nigeria and Ethiopia are two of the few African nations to throw their support behind the NTC, which they delivered to the rebels over the weekend, according to media reports out of Nigeria on Monday.
The countries that have not yet recognized the NTC are mostly countries in Asia and Africa, as well as regional blocks like the African Union.
Brazil, Russia, India and China, the so-called BRIC countries, as well as South Africa, also have yet to extend their official support to the rebels currently battling what remains of pro-Gadhafi forces in Tripoli. That is, at least for now.