China’s Li Keqiang to Visit South Korea Next Week

Posted October 19th, 2011 at 4:40 am (UTC-5)
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Officials say Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang will make back-to-back visits to North and South Korea next week.

North Korea's official KCNA news agency said Li will arrive in Pyongyang Sunday for a three-day visit. It did not offer details of an agenda for Li, who is widely expected to succeed Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao after a ruling party congress next year.

In Seoul, meanwhile, the foreign ministry said Li will arrive there October 26 for a two-day visit. It will be his first visit to South Korea since taking office in 2008.

The visits come amid mounting diplomatic exchanges as the major Pacific powers discuss terms for a resumption of six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons programs.

South Korea's foreign ministry said Li will meet top government officials for talks on bilateral, regional and global issues as well as the difficult relationship between North and South Korea.

China and South Korea have an increasingly important trade relationship, while China is the most important backer of South Korea's arch-rival, North Korea.

China has been pressing through diplomatic channels for an early resumption of the six-nation talks. Pyongyang is eager to resume the talks, but South Korea and the United States say it must first take steps to show its sincerity.

China and South Korea upgraded their relationship to a “strategic cooperative partnership” in 2008.