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(2nd LD) China calls for efforts to protect shared interests with S. Korea

All News 15:32 June 20, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS more info in last 3 paras)

BEIJING, June 20 (Yonhap) -- A senior Chinese official called for more efforts Tuesday to protect shared interests with South Korea.

Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi made the remarks in his meeting with South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam, who is visiting Beijing to discuss issues of mutual concerns with his Chinese counterparts.

Yang said that both countries should cherish what they have accomplished over the past 25 years since establishing diplomatic ties, adding that they should "respect each other and work hard to protect their shared interests."

He also hoped that their bilateral relations will return to normal in a "healthy" and "stable" manner and through joint efforts.

Improving and advancing the ties between South Korea and China are in the interest of the two countries, he said, expressing hope that Lim's trip to China would serve as a boost to that end.

Meanwhile, in a separate meeting with Lim, Chinese Executive Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui called for ramped-up communication between the two neighbors in a way that would help remove obstacles standing in the way of their relations.

Lim responded by reminding that President Moon Jae-in has made it clear since his inauguration that he will put an emphasis on their bilateral ties and foster a strategic cooperative partnership with China.

The meeting was a high-level strategic dialogue between their foreign ministries. It is the first such dialogue in 16 months since it was held in Seoul early last year, possibly providing a chance for the two countries to communicate on major issues following months of friction.

South Korea and China have seen their ties frayed since Seoul's decision in July last year to allow for the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system called THAAD.

Seoul and Washington claim that the missile system is aimed at defending against North Korea's evolving threats, but Beijing argues that it could be used against its military, taking what many see as retaliatory steps against South Korea in diverse areas.

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