South Korean President visits Beijing

By Park Sae-jin Posted : January 11, 2012, 13:15 Updated : January 11, 2012, 13:15
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has arrived in Beijing for a three-day state visit. He has met Chinese President Hu Jintao as well as Wu Bangguo, chair of the National People‘s Congress.

This is the first major meeting between the two since North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s death. President Hu is to host an official state dinner for President Lee.

Chinese state media reported Beijing is likely to offer to open talks on a free-trade agreement.

According to the report, the South Korean President will “discuss ways to develop the strategic partnership between the two nations and co-operative measures for peace and stability on the Korean peninsula”, according to a press statement from his office. Observers say Seoul wants closer co-ordination with Beijing on the issue of North Korea.

Tensions increased in late 2011 when the leadership in China, North Korea‘s main ally and key trade partner, was quick to endorse Kim Jong-un’s leadership after his father‘s death on 17 December. It is also the chair of the stalled six-party talks aimed at persuading North Korea to end its nuclear ambitions.

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