Korea, China to announce stepped up cooperation

Korea, China to announce stepped up cooperation
This photo taken on June 27, 2013 shows South Korean President Park Geun-Hye (L) shaking hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) after a joint declaration ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

SEOUL - South Korea and China are likely to adopt an annex to a joint presidential statement after their leaders' summit in Seoul on Thursday to underscore their efforts to strengthen cooperation in various fields including trade and business, sources said Tuesday.

Accompanied by a large economic delegation, Chinese President Xi Jinping is to arrive in Seoul for a two-day state visit on Thursday. He will have a summit with President Park Geun-hye to discuss North Korea's nuclear threat and other bilateral and regional issues.

During their summit last June, Park and Xi adopted an annex aimed at deepening their strategic partnership. The new annex would likely be intended to bolster existing bilateral strategic dialogues, economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges, sources said.

As for the strategic dialogues, the envisioned annex is expected to touch on the issues of strengthening the dialogue between South Korea's national security chief and China's state councilor in charge of foreign affairs, holding a vice ministerial strategic dialogue at an earlier date, and pushing for a policy dialogue among political parties of the two countries.

On the economic front, the annex is expected to stress the bilateral efforts to conclude free trade negotiations and enhance regional economic cooperation, the investment environment and cooperation in the area of future industrial technologies. The two sides are to sign some 10 memorandums of understanding on economic cooperation.

The annex's people-to-people exchanges are likely to include projects to bolster exchanges among scholars, young students and provincial governments of the two countries, and consular cooperation.

Meanwhile, high on the agenda for Thursday's summit is expected to be North Korea's nuclear programme. The joint statement is expected to mention the leaders' push for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, although it is unlikely to single out North Korea for denuclearization.

Xi will be the first Chinese president to visit South Korea first before visiting North Korea, a point that experts say highlights Beijing's growing estrangement with its wayward communist ally Pyongyang.

Xi is likely to stress the need to resume the multilateral aid-for-denuclearization talks. Although Park has insisted that Pyongyang first show sincerity in its commitment to denuclearization, she could show more flexibility and lean toward dialogue in a move to improve inter-Korean ties, observers said.

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