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President Moon's special envoy to China meets with Xi Jinping Updated: 2017-05-20 09:06:21 KST

A little over a week after President Moon spoke with President Xi over the phone, his special envoy, Lee Hae-chan met President Xi on Friday in person in Beijing.

Restoring relations with China, which have soured since South Korea decided to bring in the American missile defense system THAAD, has been one of President Moon Jae-in's top priorities, and Moon selected one of his closest political aides and friends as his envoy to demonstrate his sincerity about achieving that goal.

And in Friday's meeting, according to China's official Xinhua News Agency, President Xi told the South Korean envoy that he believes the visit demonstrates "the importance that the new [South Korean] leader has attached to relations with Beijing," and also expressed his wish to see China's ties with South Korea back on a "normal track".

Lee also presented the Chinese leader with a hand-written letter from President Moon.

Also in attendance were China's state councilor Yang Jiechi, as well as foreign minister Wang Yi.

In the lead-up to the meeting,the special envoy had already spoken privately with Wang and Yang who exchanged views on North Korea and other issues pertaining to bilateral ties.

"We hope the new South Korean government realizes the problems both countries are facing and takes effective measures to remove such obstacles to put the development of bilateral relations back on track."

There is growing speculation, though, about exactly how the two nations will try resolve ongoing problems and in what order.

Some believe South Korea will first try to address China's dissatisfaction regarding THAAD, and then use it as leverage and try to persuade China to cooperate on bringing about North Korea's denuclearization.

It's believed the envoy and his delegation are also working on arrangements for a summit between the two countries' leaders, possibly this August, when Seoul and Beijing will mark 25th years of diplomatic relations.

Kim Jung-soo, Arirang News.
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