South Korean President to visit China

Seoul hopes that the visit will deepen ties as the two nations mark the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations.

Seoul: South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak
will visit China next week for talks with his counterpart Hu
Jintao as the two nations deal with North Korea`s leadership
transition, Lee`s office said on Wednesday.

It said Lee would also meet Premier Wen Jiabao and
National People`s Congress chairman Wu Bangguo during his
January 9-11 visit.

"The two leaders will discuss how to further develop a
bilateral strategic partnership and deepen bilateral
cooperation for peace and stability on the Korean peninsula,"
Lee`s office said in a statement.

The two will also discuss wider Northeast Asian issues and
global cooperation, it added.

Seoul hopes that the visit, Lee`s second to China as
president, will deepen ties as the two nations mark the 20th
anniversary of diplomatic relations, it said.

Both nations are watching the power transition in the
North after the death of its longtime leader Kim Jong-II on
December 17.

The impoverished but nuclear-armed state has urged its
people and the military to rally behind his youngest son
Jong-Un, proclaiming him the "great successor" and supreme
military commander.

China is the North`s main ally and economic prop. It
quickly endorsed Jong-un`s leadership.

China also chairs long-stalled six-party talks on the
North`s nuclear disarmament that bring together the two
Koreas, the United States, Japan and Russia.

Efforts to start formal talks on a free trade agreement
may also be on the agenda. China is South Korea`s largest
trade partner, with two-way trade worth USD 188.4 billion in
2010.

Visiting Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang called in October
for speedier efforts to reach such a pact.

PTI

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