SEOUL/BEIJING, South Korea and China have agreed to push for President Moon Jae-in's state visit to Beijing next month as the two nations seek to mend ties frayed by the deployment of an American missile defense system, Seoul's foreign ministry said Thursday.
The agreement came as South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha held talks with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Wednesday in Beijing to fine-tune a summit between their leaders in December.
"Both sides shared the view that President Moon's visit to China will be an important occasion to strengthen and develop bilateral ties," Seoul's foreign ministry said in a statement.
Seoul-Beijing relations have been frayed for more than a year as China strongly opposed the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system in South Korea before the countries reached an agreement last month to put the feud behind them.
Seoul and Washington said the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is only aimed at countering North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. But China claimed that the move hampers its security interests and took what is deemed economic retaliatory measures against South Korean firms.
But Seoul and Beijing announced the agreement to mend ties on Oct. 31 after Chinese President Xi Jinping cemented his grip on power during the Chinese Communist Party congress.
"The two sides shared the view that they will faithfully implement the agreement and make efforts to develop their ties into a practical, strategic cooperative partnership on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations," the ministry said.
Kang and Wang also reaffirmed that North Korea's nuclear issue should be peacefully resolved through dialogue, it said.
"They agreed to employ all available diplomatic means to make the absence of North Korea's provocations continue. They also decided to closely cooperate to make the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and Paralympics slated for next year a 'Peace Olympics,'" the ministry said.
In a meeting with reporters in Beijing on Thursday, Kang said, "Both sides shared the understanding that Moon's upcoming visit would be an important opportunity for expediting the trend of reviving the bilateral relationship."
Kang said she has also stressed to the Chinese side the importance of helping relieve the difficulties of South Korean companies involved in China that have been hit by the recent feud.
China's foreign ministry also quoted Wang as asking for South Korea's collaboration with China's "One Belt, One Road" regional economic development strategy.
South Korea's foreign ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk said in a press briefing on Thursday that the government is considering possible participation in the Chinese development initiative.
"The government is currently reviewing matters of that regard, having sent a delegation to a related forum (in China)," the spokesman noted.
Source: Yonhap News Agency