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South Korea's Lee Myung-bak arrives in China for talks

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-02-29

South Korean president Lee Myung-bak arrived in China on Monday to meet with President Hu Jintao for talks that will focus on North Korea's future following the death of dictator Kim Jong-il. China has nominally supported new scion Kim Jong-Un.

AFP - South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak arrives in China on Monday for talks with his counterpart Hu Jintao that will focus on the North Korean leadership transition following the death of Kim Jong-Il.

Lee will also meet Premier Wen Jiabao and National People's Congress chairman Wu Bangguo during the three-day visit to Beijing, Lee's office said last week.

Both countries are closely watching the leadership transition in North Korea after the death of its longtime leader Kim Jong-Il on December 17, amid fears a power struggle could destabilise the nuclear-armed country.

China, North Korea's closest ally and biggest economic partner, has thrown its support behind the new leader, Kim's young son Jong-Un, as it seeks to maintain stability and prevent a flood of refugees spilling across its border.

The North has harshly criticised the South's leaders since Jong-Un was declared "great successor" to his father, threatening unspecified retaliation against Seoul for perceived insults during official mourning for Kim.

Lee and Hu will discuss ways 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 leaders will also discuss wider Northeast Asian issues and global cooperation.

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.

Lee's visit comes after Kurt Campbell, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, held talks in Beijing last week with Chinese foreign ministry officials that were focused on stability in the North.

Campbell said he urged China to stress the need for restraint to its North Korean allies.

The US also "stressed that North Korea should take steps to improve relations with the ROK (South Korea) and to abide by its international obligations and commitments", Campbell said.

Date created : 2012-01-09

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