SEOUL--South Korea and China are preparing high-level talks, including a summit, this year while leaving Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe largely out of the picture.
Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to meet with South Korean President Park Geun-hye in Seoul in 2014, South Korea’s foreign ministry said Jan. 1.
Other senior officials, including Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, are also expected to visit Seoul for discussions.
The two countries are expected to reaffirm their opposition to North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons and their shared position on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.
Wang requested the summit in a Dec. 31 phone call to his South Korean counterpart, Yun Byung-se. They also discussed visits by other Chinese officials, according to sources familiar with the conversation.
The foreign ministers also talked about their countries’ response to Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine on Dec. 26, the first by a sitting Japanese prime minister in seven years.
The visit exacerbated Tokyo’s already strained ties with Beijing and Seoul because the two neighbors view the Shinto shrine in Tokyo as a symbol of Japanese wartime past.
Abe has not met with Park or Xi since returning to power in December 2012 due largely to disputes over territory and history perceptions.
In June, Park visited Beijing to meet with Xi. She became the first South Korean president to visit China ahead of Japan after taking office.
Four months later, Park and Xi met for their second summit in Bali, Indonesia, where a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation was held.
China represents South Korea’s largest trade partner in terms of value, twice as large as that of Japan to South Korea. Negotiations are under way for a possible free trade agreement between China and South Korea. Economic ties between the two countries have strengthened due to a surge in the number of Chinese tourists visiting South Korea.
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