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South Korean president in Brussels for EU talks

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(BRUSSELS) - South Korean President Park Geun-Hye will hold talks with EU leaders on Friday as the bloc marks the 50th anniversary of ties with the Asian nation, a key trade partner.

EU officials said Park's visit "will give further impetus" to a relationship anchored by a 2011 Free Trade Agreement which they say "is living up to its promise."

Trade was worth some 75 billion euros last year, with the EU now running a slight surplus.

A series of territorial disputes which pit China, Japan and South Korea against each other will also be on the agenda when Park meets EU President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso, EU officials said.

These disputes have heated up recently, especially between Beijing and Tokyo over contested islands, while China's claim to huge parts of the South China Sea has stoked tensions in Southeast Asia.

As the bloc prepares for two other key Asian summits with Japan and China later this month, one EU official said it was a "paradox" that the region had made so much economic progress but still lacked a security framework in which to resolve such conflicts.

"We are concerned" at the disputes, said the official, who asked not to be named. "Our stake is in the peacefulness and security of the region."

Nuclear armed North Korea is another concern.


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