Summit between Xi, Park set for next weekThe Blue House announced yesterday that Chinese President Xi Jinping will make a two-day state visit to Korea to meet President Park Geun-hye next week. This will be the fifth meeting of the two leaders since their inaugurations in 2013.
Xi will visit Seoul from July 3 to 4, said presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook in a briefing yesterday held simultaneously with an announcement in Beijing.
On Thursday, Xi and Park are scheduled to hold a bilateral summit and a joint press conference afterwards. A state banquet will be held in honor of Xi later that evening.
The two leaders are expected to discuss “methods of bilateral cooperation” in areas such as North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and expanding economic cooperation, including the ongoing Korea-China free trade agreement negotiations. Further details of Xi’s schedule will be announced at a later date, the Blue House said.
This will be Xi’s first visit to South Korea since he became president and is in reciprocation of Park’s visit to China last June, which cemented strong ties between the two leaders.
Special attention is being put on the fact that Xi’s Korea visit does not include stops in any other countries.
It also marks a rare visit to Seoul by a Chinese leader before he visits Pyongyang. Xi is breaking the precedent set by predecessors Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin by choosing to visit South Korea before North Korea.
Xi has yet to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. In contrast, Park has met with Xi four times and held two phone calls since they both took office in 2013. The leaders last held talks on the sidelines of a nuclear summit in The Hague on March 23.
The last summit between North Korean and Chinese leaders was in May 2011 in China when the late Kim Jong-il met with Hu Jintao.
Xi is expected to be accompanied by his wife Peng Liyuan, which is also considered a tribute to the close ties between the countries.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a briefing in Beijing yesterday, “The China-Korea relationship of strategic cooperative partnership will be elevated to a new level.”
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]