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German ex-president Scheel, 'Ostpolitik pioneer' dies aged 97

Walter Scheel served as Germany's foreign minister and then president in the decade from 1969Former West German president Walter Scheel, who helped pave the way for his country’s rapprochement with the communist East, died on Wednesday aged 97, his party’s spokesman said. Scheel, who led the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), served as foreign minister in Willy Brandt’s centre-left coalition from 1969 to 1974, a period during which he spearheaded key agreements with the Eastern bloc. Paying tribute to Scheel, Chancellor Angela Merkel said he would be remembered for “his commitment to the people, his grasp of the importance of a unified Europe and his commitment to peace and democracy”.

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