Wang set for first Seoul trip in 5 years

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Wang set for first Seoul trip in 5 years

Wang Yi, the Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, is set to make a two-day visit to Seoul next week, his first trip to the country in five years, the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Thursday.

He is scheduled to visit next Wednesday and Thursday upon the invitation of Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha.

The foreign ministers are expected to discuss bilateral issues, the situation on the Korean Peninsula and regional and global problems.

It will mark his first visit since tensions escalated over the deployment of the U.S.-led Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) antimissile system to the country in 2017.

Beijing strongly protested the Thaad deployment, which it saw as a threat to its strategic interests, and imposed unofficial economic retaliatory measures that impacted Korean businesses and entertainers in China and banned Chinese tour packages to Korea, but the two countries have since been mending relations.

The Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wang’s upcoming trip, “We look forward to the visit becoming an opportunity to bolster communication between Korean and Chinese diplomatic authorities to newly develop bilateral relations and further substantiate the strategic cooperation relations.”

Since Kang became Seoul’s top diplomat, Korea and China have held eight foreign ministerial meetings.

Korean President Moon Jae-in visited Beijing in December 2017, but Chinese President Xi Jinping has yet to reciprocate a visit to Seoul.

A senior Korean Foreign Ministry official said Thursday, “The two sides are expected to discuss everything of mutual interest, and share an understanding on the need for President Xi’s visit, and will continue to discuss this.”

The leaders of South Korea, China and Japan are also expected to hold a trilateral summit in China, next month, and an agenda for this gathering may also be discussed during Wang’s Seoul visit.

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