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South Korean president in Beijing for talks
June 27, 2013, 5:36 am

China has said it sees Park “as an old friend".

China has said it sees Park “as an old friend” [Xinhua]

South Korean President Park Geun-hye arrived in Beijing on Thursday morning, kicking off her first state visit to China since taking office in February.

During her four-day tour, President Park will hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who invited her to visit China, and meet with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and top legislator Zhang Dejiang.

Her entourage includes the biggest business delegation ever for a South Korean leader. China is the country’s biggest trade partner.

Park will also follow up on talks of a free trade agreement announced last year.

A statement issued by her office has asserted the focus of the trip would be economic ties with China.

Substantial progress will be necessary for negotiations of the free trade deal between Beijing and Seoul, South Korea’s top economic policymaker said Thursday ahead of the summit between leaders of the two countries.

“It is necessary to seek substantial progress that can conclude the first-stage FTA talks, now when one year has passed since the two countries launched the negotiations,” Finance Minister Hyun Oh- seok said at a meeting with other policymakers.

The two sides will exchange views on bilateral ties and “major international and regional issues of common concern”, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.

North Korea is expected to be on top of that list as Park tries to press Beijing to step up pressure on Pyongyang to rein in it’s nuclear programme.

The nuclear issue will be discussed when Park meets President Xi Jinping and other leaders, China foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Wednesday.

China sees Park “as an old friend,” Hua said on June 18.

China has voted in favour of recent economic sanctions against North Korea at the United Nations in the wake of the third nuclear test carried out by Pyongyang this year.

Besides Beijing, Park will visit Xi’an, capital city of Shaanxi Province in western China.

Park’s first overseas visit after assuming the presidency this year was to Washington.


With inputs from Agencies