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China to send pandas to S. Korea during Xi's upcoming visit

All Headlines 10:11 June 19, 2014

BEIJING, June 19 (Yonhap) -- China has been preparing to send a pair of pandas to South Korea during an upcoming visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Seoul, as part of Beijing's time-honored goodwill gesture of fostering bilateral relations, a diplomatic source said Thursday.

Xi has been widely expected to make a state visit to South Korea early next month for a summit meeting with President Park Geun-hye, although the two nations have yet to announce a date for the forthcoming summit.

The pandas will be sent to South Korea from China "in the form of a long-term loan," the source said on the condition of anonymity.

"To my knowledge, the Chinese government has decided to send pandas to South Korea to deepen the strategic cooperative relationship between the two nations and foster bilateral friendship," the source said.

Dubbed "panda diplomacy," China has a tradition of sending pandas to foreign countries as a gesture of friendship.

Bilateral relations between South Korea and China have steadily improved since their leaders took office early last year. South Korea is also seeking to deepen its alliance with the United States, while upgrading its partnership with China.

How to persuade North Korea, which has threatened to conduct its fourth nuclear test, to give up its nuclear weapons program is expected to top the agenda of the upcoming summit between Park and Xi. But there has been little progress toward diplomatic solutions that would persuade Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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