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Yoon invites Chinese leader Xi to visit S. Korea

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol (left) shakes hands with China's top legislator Li Zhanshu during a meeting at the presidential office in Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap)
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol (left) shakes hands with China's top legislator Li Zhanshu during a meeting at the presidential office in Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap)

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol on Friday invited Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit Seoul, during his meeting with Li Zhanshu, China's top legislator.

Yoon said Xi's visit will "serve as important momentum to open a new chapter in Seoul-Beijing relations for the next 30 years," according to the presidential office.

In response, Li, China's third-highest-ranking official and chief of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said he will deliver the invitation to Xi, and asked Yoon to visit China at a convenient time.

Li arrived in Seoul on Thursday for a three-day visit, marking the first visit by China's top legislator to the country since legislator Zhang Dejiang's trip in 2015.

"This year is a meaningful year marking 30 years of diplomatic relations between South Korea and China," Yoon said. "I look forward to your role and interest as our two countries develop further."

Li delivered greetings from Xi.

"Over the last 30 years, China-South Korea relations have developed in all directions in line with the era under the joint efforts of the two countries' leaders," he said through a translator.

"They brought large benefits to the two countries and to the two countries' peoples, and played an important role for peace and development in the region and the world."

Yoon expressed his deep consolation to the victims of the recent earthquake in China's Sichuan province, saying he wishes for a quick return to stability.

Earlier in the day, Li met National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo and they agreed on the need to beef up strategic communications to resolve North Korea's nuclear issue and maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula.

"We exchanged our opinions on the geopolitical situation of the Korean Peninsula and agreed it is important to sustain strategic communications between South Korea and China for the stable management of the situation on the Korean Peninsula and to resolve North Korea's nuclear issue," Kim said during a joint press briefing following their meeting.

While sticking to the principle of responding sternly to North Korean provocations, South Korea is also making continuous efforts for a peaceful and diplomatic resolution of the issue as seen in President Yoon's "audacious plan" that offers massive economic aid in exchange for denuclearization, Kim said.

"We look forward to a constructive role from the Chinese side," he said.

Li said the two shared views that defending peace and stability on the peninsula is in line with the common interests of each side.

He also called on both sides to strengthen communication and play active roles to resolve issues on the Korean Peninsula through a political process, pinning hopes that the two countries will enter a "brighter future" under the strategic leaderships of Yoon and Chinese President Xi.

Kim and Li highlighted the need to strengthen parliamentary cooperation between the two countries as Seoul and Beijing mark 30 years since establishing diplomatic ties this year.

"We agreed on the need to reinforce arrangements to activate top- and high-level exchanges," Kim said, adding that he proposed a meeting of parliamentary leaders of South Korea, China and Japan, and Li promised to consider it positively.

Also discussed during their meeting was strengthening cooperation to stably manage supply chains and widening exchanges between the two countries, with Li voicing support for accelerating talks on the second phase of the Seoul-Beijing free trade agreement.

The Chinese official said the two countries should work together to guard multilateralism and regional trade, and talk their way through "sensitive" issues based on the spirit of mutual respect. (Yonhap)

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