Beijing: China wants to put ties with South Korea back on a "normal track", President Xi Jinping said on Friday, but Beijing also urged Seoul to respect its concerns and resolve tensions over the deployment of a US anti-missile system that it opposes.
Relations between Beijing and Seoul, strained by disagreement over South Korea`s hosting of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, have taken on a more conciliatory tone with the election earlier this month of President Moon Jae-in.
Xi told Moon`s representative Lee Hae-chan on Friday that his visit showed the importance the new South Korean leader attached to relations with Beijing.
"China, too, pays great attention to the bilateral ties," Xi said in comments in front of reporters in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
"We`re willing to work with South Korea to preserve the hard-won results, properly handle disputes, put China-South Korea relations back onto a normal track and benefit both peoples on the basis of mutual understanding and mutual respect," he said.
Lee gave Xi a hand-written letter from the popular, liberal Moon, who easily won election earlier this month to replace Park Geun-hye, who was ousted in a corruption scandal.
"President Moon said he hopes I`d also pass on his gratitude to you for your message of congratulation and the telephone call after he was elected," Lee said, before reporters were asked to leave the room.
According to the official Xinhua news agency, Xi told Lee: "China is willing to strengthen communication with the new South Korean government... (and) continue to push for the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula."
In a separate meeting with Lee on Friday, China`s top diplomat Yang Jiechi said China "hopes that South Korea can respect China`s major concerns (and) appropriately resolve the THAAD issue," Xinhua reported.