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Roh Arrives in China, Agenda Includes Trade Talks


South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun has arrived in China for talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program. President Roh's entourage also includes Cabinet ministers and business leaders who hope to use the visit to boost trade between the two nations.

Beijing officials rolled out the red carpet for South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun Monday, as he arrived for a four-day visit. Chinese officials say a key topic of discussion between China's leaders and Mr. Roh will be North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

Piao Jianyi, with the Institute of Asia Pacific Studies in Beijing, says President Roh and Chinese President Hu Jintao will discuss strategies for peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Mr. Piao predicts the two sides will confirm each other's positions on North Korea. He says it is likely that they will agree that the problem must be resolved peacefully, and that North Korea must give up its nuclear weapons program.

In the past, President Roh has called on Beijing to play a "constructive role" in persuading North Korea to agree to further multilateral talks with the United States and other key Asian countries. China is North Korea's closest ally, and has been a major source of its oil, coal and food imports.

Negotiations aimed at halting Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program have not progressed since an initial round was held in Beijing in April. North Korea insists on discussing the issue only with the United States, while Washington is steadfast in its demand that South Korea, Japan, Russia and China also join talks.

The United States says North Korea admitted last year it has a secret nuclear program, in violation of several international accords. Since then, the North has responded to pressure to end the program by re-opening an idled nuclear facility and withdrawing from the global nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

President Roh also plans to use his visit to enhance trade relations. More than 30 business leaders and members of his Cabinet have joined him on the visit, to discuss trade.

Trade between China and South Korea soared to more than $40 billion last year, an eight-fold increase since trade relations were normalized in 1992. While in China, President Roh is to visit a car factory owned by the South Korean company Hyundai, and meet business leaders in Shanghai, the country's financial hub.

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