SEOUL • South Korea yesterday said it held talks with China’s top diplomat over trade, denuclearisation and the coronavirus response, in the first visit by a senior Chinese official since the pandemic erupted late last year.
The Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo member Yang Jiechi met South Korea’s new national security adviser Suh Hoon in Busan.
Both sides discussed topics such as accelerating free trade agreement negotiations, expanding cultural exchanges, as well as the election of the World Trade Organisation director-general, said South Korea’s presidential Blue House spokesman Kang Min-seok in a statement.
Mr Kang said Mr Yang addressed China’s position regarding current US-China relations, and Mr Suh in return stressed the importance of cooperative US-China ties for peace and prosperity in North-east Asia.
Mr Yang spoke of progress made in improving China-South Korean relations, saying the two nations have enjoyed good momentum in developing ties under the strategic guidance of their respective state leaders.
Both countries have joined hands in fighting Covid-19 to bring their outbreaks under control, becoming role models on the international stage, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported.
The bilateral talks come after the pandemic had undercut exchanges and stalled denuclearisation talks involving North Korea.
China and South Korea resumed exchanges last month when Seoul sent a high-level diplomat for a bilateral economic meeting.
Mr Suh, who took up the top security job last month after serving as intelligence chief, discussed with Mr Yang a potential trip to Seoul by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Mr Kang said both sides agreed to make Mr Xi’s visit to South Korea happen promptly once the Covid-19 situation stabilises, adding that China called South Korea a priority for Mr Xi to visit.
Mr Yang said China advocates building international relations based on mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation.
Beijing would continue to cooperate with South Korea to achieve denuclearisation and peace on the Korean peninsula, he said.
He added that China stands ready to enhance international cooperation in the multilateral sector with South Korea in order to safeguard multilateralism and free trade. Both sides agreed on the need to hold a trilateral summit between South Korea, China and Japan this year.
Mr Yang arrived in South Korea on Friday and was due to leave yesterday, the government said.
He had been on a three-day visit in Singapore prior to his trip to South Korea.
South Korea has seen a resurgence in coronavirus infections and reported more than 300 cases for two straight days. The government will extend level two social distancing rules nationwide from today.
REUTERS, XINHUA, BLOOMBERG