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Parliamentary speaker embarks on trip to Sweden, Germany

National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug has embarked on a trip to Sweden and Germany as part of his parliamentary diplomacy aimed at strengthening bilateral cooperation, officials said Sunday.

From Sunday through Tuesday, Park plans to visit Sweden, becoming the first South Korean parliamentary chief to visit the country since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1959.

In Stockholm on Monday, Park plans to pay a courtesy call on King Carl XVI Gustaf and meet Foreign Trade Minister Anna Hallberg, the Swedish Embassy in Seoul said. The following day, he will meet Prime Minister Stefan Lofven and Parliamentary Speaker Andreas Norlen.

Park also plans to meet Kent Harstedt, Sweden's special envoy for the Korean Peninsula, and Swedish Ambassador to North Korea Joachim Bergstrom.

On Wednesday, the speaker will begin his three-day visit to Germany.

Park plans to meet top government and parliamentary officials, including President Frank-Walter Steinmeier; Wolfgang Schauble, head of the Bundestag, the parliament's lower house; and Dietmar Woidke, the head of the Bundesrat, the parliament's upper house.

In meetings with German parliamentary leaders, Park is expected to talk about Germany's unification experience and issues related to the North Korean nuclear issue and the decades-old division on the Korean Peninsula.

Park also plans to use his trip to call for the European countries' support for South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee's campaign for the director-generalship of the World Trade Organization.

Park's delegation includes Reps. Park Wan-joo and Cho Eung-cheon of the ruling Democratic Party, and Rep. Lee Che-ik of the main opposition People Power Party. (Yonhap)