China and South Korea have announced the dates for President Xi Jinping's visit to Seoul next week.
Both sides Friday announced Xi will arrive in Seoul on July 3 [Thursday] for two days of talks with his South Korean counterpart, Park Geun-hye. The trip has been widely anticipated for several weeks.
North Korea is expected to be a major topic of discussion between the two leaders. It will be the first time in more than two decades that a Chinese leader visits Seoul before Pyongyang.
Beijing is traditionally one of the North's key allies and economic partners. There has been no summit between the two countries, however, since the 2011 death of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il. Pyongyang has not yet commented on the impending summit in Seoul.
When asked about Xi visiting Seoul before Pyongyang, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said his country is "committed to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula."
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.