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Chinese VP known as Xi's right-hand man to attend Yoon's inauguration

A worker installs chairs at the National Assembly plaza in Seoul on Friday, as part of preparations for the May 10 inauguration ceremony of incoming President Yoon Suk-yeol. (Yonhap)
A worker installs chairs at the National Assembly plaza in Seoul on Friday, as part of preparations for the May 10 inauguration ceremony of incoming President Yoon Suk-yeol. (Yonhap)

Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, considered one of the closest aides to Chinese President Xi Jinping, will be among the foreign guests attending incoming President Yoon Suk-yeol's inauguration ceremony next week, the organizing committee said Friday.

Wang will be the highest-ranking Chinese official ever to attend a South Korean president's inauguration, indicating Xi's desire to foster good relations with the incoming government in Seoul.

Other high-level guests at the May 10 ceremony will include Singaporean President Halimah Yacob, Central African Republic President Faustin-Archange Touadera, former Indonesian President Megawati Soekarnoputri and former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, the committee said in a press release.

Around 300 foreign dignitaries are scheduled to attend the event at the National Assembly plaza, including 143 foreign envoys to South Korea. Japan has yet to announce its delegate to the ceremony but is expected to designate a Cabinet-level official.

The White House said earlier US President Joe Biden appointed Douglas Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, to lead a presidential delegation to the proceedings.

The eight-member delegation will also include Secretary of Labor Martin Walsh; Reps. Ami Bera (D-CA) and Marilyn Strickland (D-WA); Assistant Attorney General Todd Sunhwae Kim; Special Assistant to the President for Economic Agency Personnel Linda Hee Jung Shim; Christopher Del Corso, charge d'affaires ad interim at the US Embassy in Seoul; and author Min Jin Lee.

The organizing committee also noted the planned attendance of the speaker of Canada's Senate, a deputy leader of Uzbekistan's Senate, a former governor of the central bank of Qatar and the chairperson of Saudi Arabia's state oil giant Aramco, among others.

For the first time in South Korean history, it said, three former prisoners of war, who were captured by North Korean troops during the 1950-53 Korean War and defected to return to the South decades later, have been invited to the inauguration ceremony. (Yonhap)

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