South Korean president begins visit to Germany
11 April 2005, BERLIN - South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun began a state visit to Germany on Monday expected to focus on trade issues and the tense situation with North Korea.
11 April 2005
BERLIN - South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun began a state visit to Germany on Monday expected to focus on trade issues and the tense situation with North Korea.
Roh began his five-day trip by meeting Germany's mainly ceremonial president Horst Koehler after being welcomed with military honours. He is due to have talks with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Wednesday.
The South Korean leader underlined in a speech that Germany is his country's most important European economic partner.
Trade between both nations is almost balanced, with German exports to South Korea worth USD 8.5 billion (EUR 6.6 billion) and imports from South Korea valued at USD 8.3 billion (EUR 6.4 billion) last year.
German companies have invested about USD 5 billion (EUR 3.9 billion) in South Korea, said the South Korean embassy in a statement.
The German ambassador to South Korea, Michael Geier, was quoted by The Korea Times newspaper as saying a key part of President Roh's visit was to put a face on South Korean industry.
"Germans are buying Samsung, Hyundai, Kia and LG products like mad," said Geier as quoted by the paper, adding: "But do they always know this is a Korean product?"
Ambassador Geier admitted there remained confusion in the German public over identifying Korean and Japanese products.
Coinciding with Roh's visit, major South Korean companies such as Kia ran full page ads in German newspapers welcoming him.
Political talks will focus on the situation with North Korea, officials said.
Roh is expected to ask the German government to support South Korean moves aimed at closer ties with North Korea which in February said it had built nuclear weapons.
North Korea also pulled out of six-party talks aimed at nuclear disarmament which it had been holding with South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.
Subject: German news