South Korea, China agree on early Xi visit, N.Korea talks

South Korea, China agree on early Xi visit, N.Korea talks

SEOUL(Reuters) — South Korea and China agreed on Thursday to prepare for a visit to South Korea by Chinese President Xi Jinping and to cooperate on stalled talks on North Korea’s nuclear programme and on tackling the novel coronavirus.

China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, arrived in the South Korean capital late on Wednesday, after a two-day visit to Japan, as Asian governments prepare for change under a new U.S. administration.

“Both sides agreed to actively communicate so that the COVID-19 situation stabilises and conditions are created for President Xi’s visit,” the South Korean foreign ministry said in a statement after Wang held talks with South Korea’s foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha.

China and U.S. ally South Korea have traditionally been suspicious of each other but in recent years they have found common ground in economic cooperation and a shared concern about North Korea’s rush to develop nuclear weapons.

Xi was expected to visit South Korea early this year but the coronavirus epidemic put plans on hold.

Wang said his visit was to highlight the importance of efforts by the “strategic partners” to work to promote peace and stability.