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Merkel pledges German support for Korean reunification

Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that Germany would be happy to play a role in the reunification of the Korean peninsula. Meanwhile the UN Security Council is preparing to discuss missile tests by the North.

Merkel on Wednesday said that Germany’s own past experience of reunification meant that it had a duty to help in Korea.

"We would very much like to support Korea in this important issue," said Merkel, after meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye in Berlin. "Germany was divided for 40 years. Korea, meanwhile, has been in such a situation for 70 years."

"It’s our goal and, to a certain extent, our duty to help other countries to re-establish their national unity," said Merkel. The Chancellor, a pastor’s daughter raised in East Germany before going on to lead her country years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, described herself as a product of reunification.

Park said that her country and Germany had a "bond" as they shared the "painful experience" of division, which ended in Germany when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.

"German unity is for us an example and model for a peaceful reunification," the South Korean president told reporters though an interpreter.

Amid speculation about the

instability of Kim Jong Un's regime in North Korea, the South Korean President has recently declared the need to make plans for reunification.

The disparity of wealth between North and South Korea dwarfs that between East and West Germany immediately before reunification, with the prospect of reunification worrying many in the South. Nevertheless, Park herself has said the country could enjoy a "bonanza," bringing together the South’s thriving technology base and the North’s extensive natural resources.

Behind closed doors

The North and South - divided along the 38th parallel of latitude north of the equator - technically remain in a state of war, the 1950-53 Korean War ending with an armistice rather than a peace treaty.

On Thursday, the United Nations Council was due to hold closed-door consultations, where condemnation of recent ballistic missile tests was to be discussed. Early on Wednesday,

North Korea launched what appeared to be two mid-range Rodong ballistic missiles

- capable of hitting Japan - in an apparent test.

The United Nations Security Council has agreed to meet for a special session after a request from the US, which claims the test violate Security Council resolutions. It is uncertain in China would veto such a condemnation. Although a traditional ally of Pyongyang, Beijing has become increasingly willing to take the side of the international community in rebuking North Korea in recent years.

rc/jm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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