Friday 10 July 2020
News ID: 73523
Publish Date: 04 December 2019 - 22:04
SEOUL (Reuters) -- South Korea and China agreed to beef up diplomatic and cultural exchanges to "completely normalize” ties that soured over the deployment of U.S. anti-missile systems in 2017, Seoul officials said on Wednesday.
Making his first visit to South Korea in over four years, China’s State Councillor Wang Yi, who also serves as foreign minister, met South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and was set to meet President Moon Jae-in on Thursday.
Relations between the two countries were strained by a dispute that erupted over the installation of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea, which led to a sharp slump in South Korea’s tourism, cosmetics and entertainment industries.
Kang and Wang agreed to hold the first gathering of a planned joint vice-ministerial panel on people-to-people exchanges "in the near future” and create a new meeting on maritime affairs, South Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
"Both sides concurred that relations should be put back on a normal orbit and completely normalized,” a ministry official told reporters after the meeting.
Kang and Wang also discussed Moon’s expected trip to China later this month for a trilateral summit with Japan, a possible visit to Seoul by Chinese President Xi Jinping, as well as stalled denuclearization talks between North Korea and the United States, the ministry said.
Calling the two countries "close neighbors, friends, and partners”, China’s Wang said at the start of the meeting that they should work together to keep regional peace and stability.
The biggest threat the world faces is "unilateralism that destroys the global order and hegemonic acts that challenge rules of international relations,” Wang said, in a purported swipe at the United States, whose rivalry with China is intensifying.
Addressing North Korean issues, Wang said North Korea’s reasonable concerns about its security should be respected and resolved, China’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Kang told Wang she hoped for in-depth discussions to promote economic, cultural and people-to-people exchanges, as well as "ways to work together to establish denuclearization and peace on the Korean peninsula”.
South Korea sees China as instrumental in reviving the stalemated nuclear talks between the United States and North Korea, a longtime ally of Beijing.
Negotiations between North Korea and the United States hit a stalemate after a day-long working-level meeting in October in Stockholm broke down.

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