Park chooses Beijing over Tokyo for 2nd trip

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Park chooses Beijing over Tokyo for 2nd trip

President Park Geun-hye will go on a state visit to China at the end of next month, the Blue House announced yesterday.

Park chose China as the destination for her second overseas state visit following a visit to the U.S. earlier this month. In the past, Korean presidents have visited Japan after the U.S., while China came third.

“At the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Park will visit China in late June,” Kim Haing, presidential spokeswoman, said. “The specific dates and items on the agenda will be announced by the two countries at an appropriate time.”

According to Kim, Park will visit Beijing and one more provincial city during the trip. A state visit is the highest form of diplomatic contact between two countries, and Park will attend a state dinner hosted by Xi and inspect China’s honor guard. “China from the beginning proposed Park make a state visit,” Kim said.

Lee made two state visits to China, other presidents in the past from Roh Tae-woo to Roh Moo-hyun went on one state visit to China during their presidencies.

Her predecessor Lee Myung-bak visited the United States in April 2008 as his first overseas destination and stopped in Japan on his way home. His first presidential trip to China came one month later.

South Korea’s ties with Japan frayed over recent weeks following Japanese officials’ remarks challenging the two countries’ history and Japan’s misdeeds.

Park’s friendship with Xi and her government’s policy to value China as a more important partner appeared to be factors that influenced the change. North Korea is expected to be one of the top items on the agenda for Park’s summit with Xi.

By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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