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South Korean President on landmark Swiss visit

Published on Jan 21, 2014 7:58 AM

BERN, Switzerland (AFP) - South Korea's President Park Geun-Hye began a state visit to Switzerland on Monday, the first by a head of state from her country since the two nations established diplomatic relations in 1962.

Ms Park's Swiss counterpart, Mr Didier Burkhalter, welcomed her briefly in Korean at an official reception, as she began her two-day visit focused on economic links.

Returning to his native French, Mr Burkhalter lauded South Korea as an example of economic innovation, saying the country was a "natural partner" for Switzerland, also home to cutting-edge technology and precision industry firms.

"There's a skillful mix between a modern, dynamic Korea - right through to Gangnam Style - and a country attached to its traditions, and a profound awareness of its history," he said, making a passing, humorous reference to a Korean K-pop hit.

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