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German president seeks to promote Korean unification with state visit

President Joachim Gauck has arrived in Seoul on a state visit to promote ties with the region. Coming 70 years after the division of the peninsula, Gauck's visit is expected to advance his vision of Korean reunification.

Gauck arrived on Sunday for a visit to the South Korean capital, a trip that comes 25 years after German reunification and 70 years after the division of the Korean peninsula. It marks the first time a German president has visited East Asia.

Gauck began his trip by visiting the historic Changdeokgung Palace. He is scheduled to meet with President Park Geun Hye and deliver a speech to the country's National Assembly. On Wednesday, a trip to the Korean Demilitarized Zone, the strip separating North and South Korea, is planned, where Gauck will discuss German reunification.

The trip is largely seen as a symbolic gesture meant to promote a vision of peaceful coexistence between North and South Korea, which have been in conflict with each other since the civil war that split the country following the end of World War II.

However, reaffirming business ties between Germany and South Korea is also on the agenda, as Gauck will be accompanied on the trip by several German business representatives, reported the German news agency dpa.

According to the Korean-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, South Korea is second only to China as the leading export market for German businesses in Asia.

blc/jlw (AFP, dpa)

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