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Park to make three-nation European trip next month

2013/10/16 15:59

SEOUL, Oct. 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye will visit France, Britain and Belgium next month in her first trip to Western Europe since taking office earlier this year, the presidential office said Wednesday.

Park will first stop in France on Nov. 2-4 for talks with French President Francois Hollande about expanding trade and investment and laying the groundwork for cooperation in science and technology and other areas, presidential spokeswoman Kim Haing said.

Park also plans to seek France's support for Seoul's policy on the North, Kim said.

From France, Park will then head to Britain for a state visit at the invitation of Queen Elizabeth II.

The Nov. 4-7 trip includes a state banquet to be hosted by the queen, as well as summit talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron. The two are set to discuss economic cooperation, global issues like cyber security and climate change, and the situation on the Korean Peninsula, Kim said.

The two-day visit to Belgium from Nov. 7 includes a summit with Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo to talk about business cooperation and other exchanges between the two countries. Park also plans to attend a dinner reception to be hosted by King Philippe, Kim said.

While in Brussels, Park also plans to visit the European Union headquarters and hold talks with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy about boosting economic and other cooperation, including ensuring a smooth implementation of the free trade deal between the two sides, the spokeswoman said.

"This visit to Western Europe is President Park's first bilateral visit to Europe," Kim said. "The trip is meaningful in that it will broaden the horizon of our diplomacy to Europe ... following summit diplomacy with the United States, China, ASEAN and major Southeast Asian nations."

   ASEAN refers to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.