The top diplomats of South Korea and China have agreed to continue talks over whether to join a push by China to set up a new regional bank to fund infrastructure projects in Asia, China's foreign ministry said Saturday.
The agreement was reached between South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, during bilateral talks on Friday on the sidelines of regional security dialogue in the Myanmar capital of Naypyidaw, the Chinese ministry said in a statement.
China has been preparing to set up the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank as a counterbalance to the Asian Development Bank led by the United States and Japan, and has asked countries in the region, including South Korea, to join the drive. The U.S. has been negative about the Chinese plan.
Chinese President Xi Jinping officially asked South Korea to join the Asia infrastructure bank during his visit to Seoul earlier last month, but South Korea's stance remains unclear.
During the Friday talks, Yun told Wang that the two nations "should maintain high-level exchanges, push forward pragmatic cooperation and maintain communications on China-ROK FTA negotiations and the establishment of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank," the Chinese ministry said in a statement.
Wang said South Korea and China must work together to conclude their free trade talks by the end of this year and "maintain communications on the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank," according to the statement.
South Korea and its biggest trading partner began their formal free trade negotiations in May 2012.
Agriculture and fisheries are considered the most sensitive sectors for South Korea, while China categorizes its manufacturing industries, which include the automobile, machinery and oil sectors, as sensitive.