Wed, Jul 09, 2003 - Page 5 News List

Roh upbeat about summit in China


South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun yesterday hailed "deeply significant" summit talks with Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) on the North Korean nuclear stalemate.

"This summit has been very successful," he said after meeting parliamentary head Wu Bangguo (吳邦國) and Vice President Zeng Qinghong (曾慶紅).

"My meeting with Hu Jintao yesterday was of very deep significance. The achievements we made I believe will advance South Korean-China relations even further," Roh said.

The two sides agreed Monday to work to bring Pyongyang into multilateral talks at the earliest opportunity and avoid the North Korean nuclear issue getting out of hand.

Hu, however, warned that North Korea's security concerns must also be taken into consideration.

The summit between Roh and Hu comes as US-led pressure builds to bring the North Korean nuclear crisis to the UN, a move opposed by China and Russia which fear the consequences.

North Korea has been pushing for one-on-one talks with Washington to resolve the crisis which the US says must be addressed by regional powers including China, Japan and South Korea.

Roh's first trip to China as president continued yesterday featuring meetings with Wu and Zeng ahead of talks with Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) later in the day.

Zeng, a protege of former president Jiang Zemin (江澤民), said Roh's visit would usher in "a new era in our relationship of friendly cooperation."

"This visit is going to strengthen the people to people relations and exchanges between the two countries," Zeng said.

Since normalizing relations in 1992, South Korea and China have watched bilateral trade skyrocket from some US$5 billion in 1992 to over US$44 billion last year, according to Chinese statistics.

China is the top destination for South Korean investments and could overtake the US as South Korea's biggest export market this year.

Hu has characterized the development of Sino-South Korean ties as "rapid growth, remarkable achievements, vast potential and broad prospects" and aside from North Korea, the key focus of the trip will be to build on these foundations.

Both Roh and Hu have pledged to bring bilateral trade to US$100 billion annually within five years.

Chinese consumers have become enamored with South Korean products such as cars, television sets and digital cameras while South Korea imports large quantities of Chinese fabric, garments and machinery and electronic products.

Li Guanghui, an official from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, said that China and the South Korea nation shared similarities in natural resources, markets, capital, technology and management.

"These conditions have helped to ensure high-growth bilateral trade and will provide fertile ground for the future development of trade between the two countries," Li said.

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