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German Chancellor Visits S. Africa


German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder flew to South Africa on Wednesday for a two-day state visit, including meetings with President Thabo Mbeki, business leaders and representatives of labor.

Mr. Schroeder and President Mbeki were expected to concentrate on bilateral as well as international issues.

They will discuss African development and security issues, including Zimbabwe, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Trade is the major focus of Mr. Schroeder's visit to South Africa on the third leg of his four-nation trip to Africa. His delegation includes large contingents from both business and labor, and he was scheduled to meet with officials of COSATU - South Africa's largest trade union federation.

Germany is South Africa's fourth-largest export partner and largest import partner. Since 1994, imports from Germany have increased 74 percent and exports to Germany 35 percent, doubling the value of bilateral trade to some $6 billion.

South Africa is also home to one of the largest DaimlerChrysler plants outside of Germany. In 1999 the plant exported Mercedes-Benz vehicles and components valued at $2.2 billion.

Mr. Schroeder will be guest of honor at the opening in South Africa of the DaimlerChrysler Art Exhibition at the Pretoria Art Museum. The exhibition has been brought to South Africa to mark the celebration of this country's 10th anniversary of democracy on April 27.

Mr. Schroeder is also to meet with officials from the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Mr. Mandela himself is currently vacationing in Mauritius but has telephoned the German leader to apologize for missing his visit to South Africa.

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