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China’s Xi heads to South Korea in ‘message’ to North

Published on Jun 27, 2014 3:32 PM

BEIJING (AFP) - China’s Xi Jinping will visit Seoul next week, both sides said on Friday, going to the South for his first presidential journey to the Korean peninsula as Beijing’s frustrations mount with the nuclear-armed North and its confrontational young leader Kim Jong Un.

China is the North’s key ally, energy provider and diplomatic protector, their ties sealed in the Korean War, and sees its neighbour as a buffer against finding US troops stationed on its own border. Beijing and Seoul only established diplomatic ties in 1992 after decades of Cold War hostility and suspicion, but it will be the second summit between Xi and South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, who visited China soon after she took office last year.

The July 3-4 visit will discuss “ways to cooperate on issues related to the situation on the Korean peninsula, including the North Korean nuclear issue", South Korea’s presidential Blue House said in a statement.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters it would cover “issues of common concern”. On the other hand there has been no Chinese summit with the North since the death of its then leader Kim Jong-Il, Kim Jong Un’s father, in December 2011.

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