• Kyodo

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Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji and South Korean President Kim Dae Jung agreed at talks Wednesday to exchange port calls of their countries’ naval ships, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi said.

The agreement was reached at talks at the Blue House presidential office in Seoul, Sun told reporters.

“The Chinese side agreed to accept the South Korean proposal that Chinese and South Korean military vessels exchange port calls,” Sun said.

Sun added the agreement is another sign South Korean-Chinese cooperative ties are expanding into all sectors, including the military sector, from trade and economic exchanges.

Since establishing diplomatic ties in 1992, relations between China and South Korea have focused mainly on economics.

On the economic front, Zhu and Kim agreed to establish a joint committee on industrial cooperation and a joint panel to discuss increasing investment in each other’s country.

Zhu arrived in Seoul on Tuesday for a six-day official visit during which he will also participate in the upcoming Asia-Europe Meeting summit in Seoul on Friday and Saturday. This was Zhu’s first visit to South Korea.

Kim and Zhu also agreed a permanent peace treaty between North and South Korea to replace their armistice agreement should be achieved through four-party talks by the two Koreas, the United States and China, Sun said.

Zhu and Kim welcomed the recent situation on the Korean Peninsula as a “positive development” and agreed to exercise joint efforts to further maintain peace and stability on the peninsula.

Kim asked the Chinese government to continue to play an important role in consolidating a durable peace on the peninsula, Sun said.

The four-party talks, jointly put forward by South Korea and the U.S. in April 1996, were held several times in the past but ended inconclusively.

Officials from the four countries took up matters on guaranteeing a permanent peace on the peninsula by replacing an armistice accord that ended the three-year Korean War in 1953.

Kim traveled to Pyongyang in June for the first-ever inter-Korean summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il at which both pledged to end half a century of confrontation.

The breakthrough summit resulted in a series of friendly moves between the two Koreas, including a reunion of separated family members, the reopening of liaison offices and an agreement to reconnect a cross-border railway.

After talks with Kim, Zhu met South Korean business leaders over lunch. He was also to meet South Korean Prime Minister Lee Han Dong and to attend a banquet hosted by Kim.

On Thursday, Zhu is expected to meet South Korean National Assembly Speaker Lee Man Sup and take a trip to an industrial facility.

After attending the ASEM, Zhu is to fly to Cheju Island off the southern coast Saturday before returning home on Sunday.

In November 1998, Kim and Chinese President Jiang Zemin agreed at talks in Beijing to strengthen bilateral ties into all sectors, including political and military.

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