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Park's visit to China begins 'new chapter' in S. Korea-China ties: Wang

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday hailed the ongoing state visit by South Korean President Park Geun-hye to China as "historic," saying her visit heralded a "new chapter" in bilateral relations.

Wang made the remarks as he held bilateral talks with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se on the sidelines of a regional security forum in Brunei. Park is on a four-day visit to China that included summit talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

"President Park Geun-hye made a historic visit to China.

Throughout the visit, I can say that the two nations opened a new chapter in bilateral relations," Wang told Yun in his opening remarks at the talks.

Yun also said the results of the Park-Xi summit were "better than expected."

"I believe that the summit talks (between Park and Xi) formed the most comprehensive framework of cooperation between the two nations," Yun said.

The one-on-one meeting between Yun and Wang, held on the sidelines of a regional security forum hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Brunei, came days after Park and Xi agreed to work closely together to end Pyongyang's nuclear program during their first summit in Beijing.

"The talks between Foreign Minister Yun and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang are mainly aimed at discussing follow-up issues after last week's summit talks between the two nations," a Seoul diplomat said on the condition of anonymity.

China is a key provider of economic aid and diplomatic protection for North Korea.

South Korea and the United States have urged China to put more pressure on Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons program, but Beijing has been reluctant to use that leverage over concern that pushing the North too hard could hurt its national interests.

But some analysts say that China could be shifting its policy focus on Pyongyang after North Korea pressed ahead with a long-range rocket launch in December and its third nuclear test in February in defiance of Beijing's appeals.

During last week's summit, Park and Xi pledged to cooperate closely to make the Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons, saying North Korea's nuclear program poses a serious threat to peace in the region and beyond. Park said she and Xi also shared the view that Pyongyang's possession of nuclear weapons is unacceptable under any circumstances. (Yonhap News)