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China, ROK upgrade partnership
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Beijing and Seoul will upgrade their relationship from a "comprehensive cooperative partnership" to a "strategic cooperative partnership" while intensifying cooperation in security, trade and people-to-people exchanges.

The announcement was made Tuesday by President Hu Jintao and his Republic of Korea (ROK) counterpart Lee Myung-bak after 80 minutes of talks.

The two also agreed to establish a strategic dialogue mechanism between the two foreign ministries to coordinate on key issues of common concern.

President Hu Jintao (L) shakes hands with visiting President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea (ROK) during a welcome ceremony held in Beijing, capital of China, May 27, 2008. Lee Myung-bak arrived in Beijing Tuesday afternoon, starting a four-day state visit to China.

Hu said the further development of ties requires the two countries to expand and deepen their partnership.

During the talks, Hu also called for expanded and substantive cooperation in business and trade, and proposed the two sides start free trade talks.

The two countries will enhance collaboration in sectors ranging from telecommunications and logistics to energy and environmental protection, they agreed.

Lee, a former Hyundai executive and Seoul mayor, arrived in Beijing Tuesday on a four-day visit that will also take him to Qingdao, Shandong, where a large number of ROK businesses are based.

The visit follows Lee's trip to the United States and Japan last month after he took office in February.

In a reflection of the business relationship with China, ROK's largest trading partner, Lee is accompanied by a large delegation comprising top corporate executives.

During Tuesday's meeting, the two sides also discussed security in Northeast Asia, saying the two countries will continue to make efforts under the framework of the Six-Party Talks for a settlement of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.

Lee said he hopes China continues to host the nuclear talks, and promised to closely coordinate with Beijing on the issue.

Hu said China believes Pyongyang and Seoul can resolve their differences through negotiations.

The two sides signed three deals on justice, education and scientific study in the polar region.

Lee again extended condolences to quake victims and offered to help.

He said he believes the Chinese people will overcome the current difficulties and hold a successful Olympic Games; and promised to attend the opening ceremony in August.

The two sides also agreed that Hu would visit the ROK in the second half of the year.

(China Daily May 28, 2008)

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