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Park calls for focus on unification with N. Korea

President Park Geun-hye said Tuesday that South Korea should concentrate on realizing unification with North Korea, stressing that it will bring about peace and prosperity not only on the Korean Peninsula, but also in Northeast Asia.

Park made the remarks during a dinner she hosted for the heads of South Korea's overseas diplomatic missions, days after she made proposals aimed at laying the groundwork for unification during a visit to the former East German city of Dresden last week.

"Looking at how much Germany has developed after unification during visits to Berlin and the former East German region of Dresden, I became convinced about unification on the Korean Peninsula," Park said. "Peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula is a mission of the times. It will bring peace and prosperity not only on the Korean Peninsula, but also to the entire of Northeast Asia."

"We have to put all of our capabilities into efforts to realize peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula, and for this, the role of diplomacy is important," she said, asking the mission chiefs to work harder to realize the vision.

Tuesday's meeting also came after tensions spiked on the divided peninsula after North Korea fired hundreds artillery rounds near the western sea border on Monday, promoting the South to fire back. But Park made no mention of the exchange of fire in her opening speech.

North Korea has reacted negatively to the declaration, calling it a "combination of rubbish."

The diplomats have gathered in Seoul for an annual conference that opened Monday and is scheduled to close Friday. About 290 people, including government ministers and lawmakers, are expected to attend the dinner meeting.(Yonhap)