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(2nd LD) S. Korea, China discuss Olympics, end-of-war declaration in high-level talks

All News 21:50 December 23, 2021

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with results of talks)

SEOUL/BEIJING, Dec. 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and China had senior-level discussions on some sensitive pending issues Thursday during their first "strategic dialogue" in more than four years.

Holding the virtual session with South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun at the 9th Strategic Dialogue, his Chinese counterpart, Le Yucheng, talked about Beijing's preparations to host the winter Olympic games early next year, according to Choi's ministry.

In response, Choi reiterated Seoul's hope for its successful hosting of the event in line with the 2018 PyeongChang and 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

The ministry provided no further details on relevant consultations between the two sides. While the U.S. and some like-minded nations have stated plans to boycott the games diplomatically, South Korea said publicly it has yet to make a final decision on the matter.

Choi and Le also exchanged opinions on ways for cooperation to reactivate the Korean Peninsula peace process, including South Korea's push for the declaration of a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War, the ministry said.

They agreed on the importance of managing regional security situations "with stability" and reaffirmed the shared goal of achieving the complete denuclearization of Korea and establishing permanent peace.

They agreed to continue communication, going forward, for the resumption of talks with North Korea and to develop the "strategic cooperative partnership" for "more mature and future-oriented" ties, as they mark the 30th anniversary next year of establishing diplomatic ties.

The Chinese government also expressed hope the talks will play a positive role in the development of bilateral relations.

"China and South Korea are important neighbors and partners," Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for Beijing's foreign ministry, stated earlier in the day. He noted the two sides are marking the "year of cultural exchange" together this year and in 2022.

"Next year is the 30th anniversary of China and South Korea forging diplomatic ties, and their relations have faced new, important development opportunities," he said. "(We) hope that the Strategic Dialogue this time will play a positive role in promoting communication and trust, and developing bilateral relations."

In December last year, Choi and Le held virtual talks on bilateral ties, the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues of mutual interest, but it was not a formal strategic dialogue session.

This file photo, released by Seoul's foreign ministry on Dec. 23, 2020, shows South Korea's First Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun (top) holding a virtual conference with China's Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


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