China willing to work with South Korea ahead of summit with Japan: Xi Jinping

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China is willing to work with South Korea to promote a strategic partnership to develop with the times, President Xi Jinping told South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo on Saturday, amid rising tensions surrounding Russia, the United States and North Korea.

Xi held talks with Han in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou before the opening ceremony of the Asian Games, China Central Television (CCTV) reported.

The commitment to cooperation came ahead of scheduled trilateral talks between China, Japan and South Korea in Seoul on Sept. 26, the first summit led by their senior officials in four years.

Xi told Han that he welcomes the summit at an opportune time and he will seriously consider the matter of visiting South Korea, Yonhap reported on Saturday. A Chinese statement did not mention Xi’s comment on the summit or a visit to Seoul.

China attaches great importance to the positive willingness of South Korea to commit to cooperation, Xi said, and asked South Korea to meet it half way to maintain the direction of friendly cooperation. The two countries can deepen mutually beneficial cooperations, he said.

Tensions between the two East Asian countries rose after North Korea’s Kim Jong Un’s weeklong visit to Russia earlier this month, which angered the United States, Japan and South Korea.

South Korea imposed sanctions on 10 individuals and two entities in relation to North Korea’s nuclear program and weapons trade with three countries, including Russia, the foreign ministry said on Thursday.