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China Daily Website

ROK president to visit China in June

Updated: 2013-05-24 03:32

Republic of Korea President Park Geun-hye will pay a state visit to China in late June, a long-awaited trip that critics said will strengthen bilateral ties and update ideas for easing Korean Peninsula tensions.

In addition to giving a major boost to the ROK's partnership with China, the presidential visit will take place when conditions are ideal for deeper discussion on the Korean Peninsula with China, observers said.

Park's schedule is being closely negotiated by the two countries, and more details will be released soon, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at Thursday's regular news conference.

"Since Park took office, China and the ROK have retained multichannel communications through calling, mailing and sending special envoys, which has further developed Sino-ROK relations. We believe that Park's upcoming visit to Beijing will bring the two nations' relationship to a new level," he added.

Huang Youfu, a professor of Korean studies at Minzu University of China, said Park's upcoming visit is timed favorably to deal with the peninsula situation.

"The visit was proposed long ago, but the schedule now coincides with the DPRK's recent posture for more communication with all parties and its sending an envoy to China on Wednesday," Huang said.

Choe Ryong-hae, special envoy of DPRK leader Kim Jong-un and a member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, arrived in Beijing on Wednesday.

The visit to China will be Park's second overseas trip since she took office in February. In early May, she visited the United States and had talks with US President Barack Obama on beefing up their traditional alliance, Seoul's Yonhap News Agency said.

Beijing has been consistent in its policy toward the peninsula crisis, and China will use the visit as a chance to boost direct talks between the two sides on the peninsula, and may even explore the possibility for resuming Six-Party Talks, Huang said.

A prominent political figure known for being friendly with China, Park met with the Chinese ambassador to the ROK right after winning the presidential election.

The ROK has arranged an "unprecedented" special working group for Park's visit to China, with more than 60 members, according to Seoul's Chosun Ilbo newspaper.

The working group includes government officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Ministry of Education, as well as university professors and fellows from national research institutions.

Park, the ROK's first female president, has tried to deliver in her determination for direct dialogue with the DPRK, and she has not given up her vow for pushing the "peninsula trust process", which was announced after her election, Huang said.

Shi Yuanhua, director of the Center for Korean Studies under the Institute of International Studies of Fudan University in Shanghai, said the Korean Peninsula crisis is now seemingly "heading to soft landing," and all parties have stated their willingness for more dialogue and negotiation.

After Park took office, Seoul sent several groups of diplomats to China to discuss the peninsula situation.

"But Pyongyang and Seoul now desperately need means of seeing the cards each is holding," Shi said.

Despite the latest positive signs of relief, analysts said it is still too early to say whether the situation will turn around right away.

"So far, both sides on the Korean Peninsula have not changed their previously proposed preconditions for holding bilateral talks," Shi said.

The two sides are at odds about their conditions for resuming communication, and it is unlikely either will make a major concession soon, Shi added.

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