Chinese FM Wang Yi to visit Seoul next week for talks on bilateral ties, peninsula issue

SEOUL-- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit Seoul next week for talks with his South Korean counterpart over bilateral ties and an array of regional and international issues, the foreign ministry here said Thursday.

His visit on Wednesday and Thursday has been arranged at the invitation of Seoul's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha ahead of a trilateral summit among South Korea, China and Japan, which is expected to take place in Chengdu, China, late next month.

What would be Wang's first trip here since March 2015 is seen as a sign of Seoul-Beijing ties improving after a period of friction over the installation of a U.S. missile defense system in Korea and Beijing's apparent economic retaliation for it.

Kang and Wang are scheduled to meet on Wednesday, with their discussion agenda likely to include preparations for the envisioned summit among President Moon Jae-in, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as well as efforts to denuclearize North Korea.

They could also discuss the issue of President Xi Jinping's possible visit to South Korea. Seoul has been seeking to arrange his trip here that will reciprocate Moon's trip to Beijing in December 2017. The Chinese leader last visited Seoul in July 2014.

"We expect his trip this time to serve as an opportunity to further flesh out the strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries by strengthening communication between their diplomatic authorities for the new development of bilateral relations," the ministry said in a press release.

Beijing's foreign ministry also announced Wang's planned trip, saying the two ministers will exchange views on bilateral ties and issues of mutual interest.

Wang made his last visit to Seoul in March 2015 to attend a trilateral meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts.

In an effort to enhance the chilled ties with Beijing, Seoul said in 2017 that it will not deploy additional THAAD systems, partake in a U.S.-led global missile defense program or sign a possible trilateral military alliance accord with the U.S. and Japan.

But tensions between Seoul and Beijing have not been fully addressed yet.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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